Sewage problems in Whithorn

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SCOTTISH Water were called out for the second time in a fortnight to Cairnsmore Avenue in Whithorn on Sunday after residents complained about the overpowering smell of raw sewage, which erupted onto the street from a blocked drains.

An emergency team from the utility arrived and dealt with the problem which was caused by inappropriate items being flushed.

Their spokesman said: “Scottish Water is appealing to its customers in Whithorn to bag and bin bathroom waste rather than flush it down the toilet.

“Repeated sewage spills at Cairnsmore Court are attributed to a clogged sewer which is requiring recurring attention from Scottish Water. The sewer blocks and then causes flooding on the pavement and road, distressing local residents and presenting a potential safety and hygiene risk to people in the area.

“Scottish Water attended Cairnsmore Court twice in the last fortnight to flush the sewer network and clear blockages. Large amounts of bathroom waste, such as condoms, cotton buds, nappies and other sanitary products, are still being flushed down toilets in the area. The waste, which also extends to solidified cooking fat poured down the sink, also collects at pumping stations and chokes the network, causing raw sewage and other bathroom waste to spill out into rivers and beaches.”

Scottish Water’s Regional Community Manager, Marka MacLaren, said: “Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to realise the repercussions of flushing bathroom waste down the toilet.

“Once the waste is flushed it goes through a rigid treatment process to protect the environment and passes through a series of pumps and filters before it is discharged

”However, the additional bathroom and sanitary waste causes major problems because it chokes the screens and pumps causing the system to back up and overflow.

“This not only has cost implications because of the regular jet-washing required but also there are environmental implications.

“We realise it is a subject most people don’t want to talk about but it is important people realise the consequences of flushing these items down the toilet and bag and bin them instead.”

Scottish Water have issued the following guidelines:

What can be flushed

Human waste

Toilet paper (not too much and not the moist, extra strong type).

What shouldn’t be flushed but bagged and binned instead

Sanitary items: towels, tampons, applicators, panty liners, backing strips, etc., disposable nappies, liners and baby wipes

All wipes, including baby, bathroom and toilet , incontinence pads, condoms and femidoms, colostomy bags, bandages and plasters.

Bin all of these:

Cotton buds, cotton wool, contact lenses, toothbrushes.

Dangerous items

Place razors and razor blades in a rigid container and put in the bin. Take syringes and needles to a needle bank (ask your GP for the location). Return medicines and contraceptives to your local pharmacy. When the label says ‘disposable’, it does not always mean it can be flushed down the toilet.

Fats and greases

Warm cooking oil poured away and fats washed directly from cooking utensils cause serious problems as they solidify when cooling down and build up over time causing blockages in pipes. This can cause flooding and hinder the operation of waste water treatment works and septic tanks. Sewage can flood into gardens and properties creating a mess and a health hazard.