Don’t let your festive fats become a pain in the drain this Christmas

17 December 2013

The water watchdog is urging everyone to make sure their festive cooking does not become a pain in the drain this Christmas by avoiding pouring fats and greases down the sink or loo.

About a third of us are still unsure about what we can safely dispose of down the sink, toilet or drain, according to research by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

But around three quarters of the 200,000 sewer blockages which happen in the UK every year could be avoided if we remembered not to pour fats, oils and greases down the drain.

That’s why CCWater is asking people to - ‘Think - not down the sink!’ - before getting rid of their turkey fat and gravy this Christmas.

Dame Yve Buckland, chair of CCWater, said: “Pouring a bit of fat down the sink or loo might seem quick and convenient but it could easily end up ruining your Christmas.

“These fats can quickly lead to a blocked sink, drain or toilet which means you will end up footing the bill for an emergency call-out which is likely to cost around £90. It also costs water companies about £15million every year to clear blockages – with customers ultimately footing the bill.”

Blockages account for more than half of sewer flooding incidents in the UK and over 3,000 properties are flooded each year as a result. But if we all took more care not to dispose of fats, oils and greases in the sewerage system, the number of customers affected by flooding and the damage to the environment could be significantly reduced.

CCWater’s top tips for disposing of fats, oils and grease this Christmas:
• Allow small amounts of fats, oils and grease to cool and scrape them into a container or newspaper before binning them.
• Keep a ‘fat trap’ or container in the kitchen to collect waste fats, oils and grease. Many water companies will provide you with a free fat trap.
• Mix cooking oil with absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds, and then throw it away.
AND REMEMBER – simply running the hot water tap and using detergent is not the answer – grease and hot water eventually cool down in pipes and cause blockages.

Sewer Flooding – the facts:
• Drains from the home are normally no wider than four inches (100mm).
• If you find it difficult to flush your toilet or notice that water begins to drain away slowly or bubbles come from the bottom of your toilet, contact your sewerage company and clearly explain the symptoms. Do not try to flush the toilet again as this could cause internal flooding.
• If the problem is due to a blockage or fault in your private drain, you will need to hire a drainage contractor to clear the blockage or repair it. Sewerage companies are only responsible for unblocking and maintaining public sewers.
• If sewage has entered your property from a public sewer, the company will send someone to visit you as soon as possible.
• You may be entitled to a rebate of your annual sewerage bill (up to £1,000) if flooding from a public sewer occurs. Visit the Consumer Council for Water’s website for details.
• Don’t forget to check to see if your household insurance covers sewer flooding.

For more information or to arrange an interview with sewer flooding expert Steve Grebby call the press office on 0121 345 1005

The views of what water customers felt was safe to flush down the toilet or pour down the sink were taken from CCWater’s annual Tracking Survey which can be viewed here

The Consumer Council for Water:
• Was set up in October 2005 to represent consumers in England and Wales
• Costs each water customer an average of 21p per year
• Gained over £1billion from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments
• Has helped more than 300,000 customers with complaints or enquiries about water and sewerage services
• Has to date secured over £16 million in compensation and rebates for customers
• Is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Government
• Has a committee for Wales and four regional committees in England
• Website:
• Follow us on Twitter - @WaterWatchdog

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