Project - River Holme Connections

Blockage free challenge

Almost Finished

Summary


In summer 2019, we won a funding award to help Yorkshire Water spread the message about how to keep sewage pipes free from blockages.

It’s an important message to get across for the sake of our catchment. Blocked pipes can overflow spilling sewage into our river systems, which can damage ecosystems.

The project involved river clean-up days, education and a media campaign to get across the message, clearly and simply.

Project cost: In excess of £3,000.

Thanks

Our volunteers gave their time to help in the river clean-ups. We’d also like to thank all the schools that took part and Magna Science Adventure Centre for donating competition prizes and to Dr Simpo of Ameliorate Animation for judging the competition.

           

Background


Yorkshire Water is called out to more than 30,000 sewer blockages every year, costing £2.4 million. A shocking 40% of these blockages are caused by wipes. Throughout Yorkshire in 2018 there was an average monthly increase of 45% in blockages compared to the previous year. Huddersfield was one of the hot spots, with blockages occur up to eight times more than other areas of Yorkshire.

They were looking for help to get two key message across to customers. Firstly to stop flushing unsuitable items down the loo, including so-called flushable wipes. These contain plastic and don’t break down in the sewer. Secondly, to think before they rinse fats oils and greases down the sink. As liquid fats cool they can solidify, mix with wipes and cause ‘fatbergs’ that block sewers.

What it means for our rivers

It’s an important message to get across for the sake of our rivers. When sewage pipes become blocked or when flooding occurs, sewage can overflows and enter our river systems, polluting the water and damaging animal and plant life.

How we’re helping

Our campaign included 4 river improvement days. Helped by the local community and our existing volunteers, we carried out river clean-ups and native wildflower planting. Our efforts concentrated on sewage litter hotspots, giving us the opportunity to talk about how much waste we’ve collected.

Education is a key strand to this campaign. Our aim is to educate people that there waste doesn’t always ‘disappear’ when they flush the toilet or pour the fat from their Sunday roast down the drain.

School children were particularly important in our campaign. We wanted them to take home the message about how damaging so-called ‘flushable’ wipes can be. To help, we held a ‘Blockage Busters’ competition. Young people aged under 16 were invited to design a poster that would get the message across that wipes are bad for the environment.

Dr Simpo from Ameliorate Animation judged the competition, while Magna Science Adventure Centre donated family tickets as a prize. You can read more about the competition and winners in our blog.

The winning posters were printed and displayed around the catchment to spread the simple message ‘Don’t Flush Wipes!’.

A media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and our website blog, continues which aims to educate local people on the cause and prevention of blocked pipes.

The final word…

The overall aim of this campaign is to reduce blockages leading to a cleaner and greener river corridor for all to enjoy.