A new report released today (Monday 10th June 2019) by the National Assembly for Wales has suggested that the Welsh Government should consider legislative intervention regarding non-biodegradable wet wipes.
The wide-ranging report from the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee based this recommendation, in part, on testimony from Steve Wilson, representing Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, who explained that wet wipes that are not biodegrading were causing over 2,000 blockages every month in Wales.
Discussing the problems this causes, Steve explained that blockages “can cause misery for customers who find that their sewers are backing up into their homes”.
On the impact non-biodegradable wipes have for water companies, Steve continued: “If they are getting through to the treatment works, that’s another element that we then have to capture, and there is no need for them to be in the drainage network”.
Non-biodegradable wet wipes have also been identified as an issue by Water UK, who champion their ‘Fine to Flush’ standard, which can be awarded to products that pass stringent scientific testing for ‘flushability’.
An investigation carried out in 2017, the biggest in-depth review of UK sewer blockages, found that non-flushable wet wipes could make up around 93% of the material causing some sewer blockages.
In the UK there are approximately 300,000 sewer blockages a year, costing the country approximately £100million. In extreme cases, blockages sewers can cause the flooding of streets and properties with raw sewage.
It is hoped that this new standard for flushable wet wipes will reduce the occurrence of fatbergs such as the recent examples found in Whitechapel and Sidmouth and help customers to be more aware of what can and cannot safely be flushed.
To download the full Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee Report please click here.
To learn more about Water UK’s ‘Fine to Flush’ standard please click here.