Britain’s drains and sewers are being blocked with wet wipes, kitchen rolls and even newspapers – as people have been left without loo roll, water firms said today.
The lack of toilet roll on supermarket shelves because of bulk buying has left people scrambling for alternatives.
One company says it is dealing with more than 3,000 cases of sewer flooding in a fortnight.
Severn Trent’s head of blockages Grant Mitchell has warned that this is placing a strain on staff.
“We know just how worrying it is for everyone at the moment and we want to reassure our customers that we’re working really hard to keep our essential service running,” he said.
“We know that some people are having to resort to using a whole manner of things to substitute for toilet roll at the moment, but a sewer blockage is the last thing that anyone needs right now.
“Kitchen roll and wipes are not designed to break down like loo roll is so please remember to bin them otherwise you could end up blocking your sewer pipes.”
Mr Mitchell also warned that dealing with plumbing meant his staff could not observe the government’s social distancing measures.
He added: “On top of doing one of the most mucky jobs out there, our teams are getting asked why they’re out and about a lot.
“If more and more sewers need unblocking, they need to be our more, so please be understanding, as no-one really wants to dig out poo, kitchen roll and wipes.”
Thames Water have also told of the difficulty of dealing with “unflushables”, saying these items do not break down in pipes like toilet paper and often contain fats and oils which are difficult to clear.
“We appreciate and understand everyone is using wipes more and washing their hands a lot more as recommended,” said Beddington sewage works manager Adrian Wallis.
“But, please remember, the only things that should be flushed are the 3Ps – poo, per and toilet paper.
“Normally we only need to jet wash the inlet filter screens every two to three months. Last month alone we had to do it three times.
“Wipes and things like kitchen roll if used instead of toilet paper can’t go down the loo. As nasty as it sounds, if people do use them as a last resort they need to put them in a bin and dispose of them safely.”