Christmas fat puts strain on drains

Think twice before dumping leftover fat, oil or grease from the Christmas dinner down the drain

That is the message from the Consumer Council for Water, which is warning Brits that a moment's carelessness could cause days of misery, as fat blocks up pipes and forces wastewater and even sewage to back up.

Nearly a third of all sewer flooding is caused by fat and grease being poured down the sink and an estimated 25% more fat ends up in drains and sewers during the festive season.

Last year, nearly 6,000 homes in England and Wales were flooded by sewage and nearly 30,000 other areas were affected by sewer flooding externally.

The watchdog warned that the problem is a serious health risk, as one gram of faeces can contain up to a billion types of viruses, bacteria and parasite cysts.

Householders are being advised to pour fat, oil and grease into an empty container with a lid or wipe it out of the tray with kitchen roll and throw it in the bin. Many water companies will provide free 'fat traps' to collect kitchen waste.

Diane McCrea, from the Consumer Council for Water, said: "Having the home flooded with sewage is very unpleasant and companies should provide the best customer service possible to prevent it happening in the first place.

"However, customers have a vital role to play too by disposing of fats, oils and grease responsibly to help reduce blockages."

Blocked drains can also cause big financial headaches for homeowners, as sewerage companies are only responsible for public sewers.

Any drains or private sewers that carry waste away from the home are the homeowner's responsibility, both inside and outside the property boundary until the point where they connect with public sewers, and must be repaired at the homeowner's expense.

If a blockage in the public sewer leads to sewage flooding a home or garden, water and sewerage companies are responsible for clearing up the mess, disinfecting the property and providing compensation, if appropriate, as soon as possible.

Kate Martin



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