Make sure your festive food isn′t a costly pain in the drain

13 December 2016

Tipping turkey fat, gravy and other leftovers down the plughole this Christmas could be a recipe for disaster, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is warning households.

The consumer watchdog is urging everyone to stop and think about what they pour down the sink, especially over the festive period when many sewerage companies report a rise in fat, oil and grease clogging up the sewers.

Blocked sewer pipes lead to thousands of households being flooded with sewage every year and it’s often fatty substances that put the biggest strain on the bowels of our sewers.

Greasy leftovers can also clog up a property’s drains, landing the householder with a costly callout charge for someone to clean up the mess.

Steve Grebby, CCWater’s sewer expert, said: “Imagine waking up one morning over Christmas to find your possessions swimming in sewage. It’s a horrifying thought and that’s why we all need to do our bit to keep our sewers and drains flowing freely.”

“There are lots of simple ways to safely dispose of our festive fats, including letting them cool in a container before scraping them straight into the bin. It might cost you a little more time but it could save you a lot of money.”

Running the hot tap and soaking greasy pans in detergent is not the answer as the grease and water will eventually cool down and block drains and sewers.

It’s much safer to keep a ‘fat-trap’ or container in your kitchen to collect waste before emptying it into the bin.


The UK water industry spends around £50 million a year clearing avoidable blockages in sewers – the cost is passed onto consumers through sewerage bills.

• An estimated 366,000 sewer blockages a year are caused by inappropriate substances like fat, oil and grease (FOG), wet wipes and sanitary products being flushed down the loo.

• The build-up of fat, oil and grease is indirectly responsible for many cases of sewer flooding and pollution of rivers and streams.

• If we all take care not to tip our greasy leftovers into the sewerage system, the number of customers affected by flooding and the impact on our environment will be significantly reduced.

Flooding facts:

Drains from the home are normally no wider than four inches (100mm).

• If there is a blockage or fault in your private drain, you will need to hire a drainage contractor to clear or repair it. Sewerage companies are only responsible for maintaining public sewers.

• If sewage has flooded your property from a public sewer, the company should send someone to help clean up your home as quickly as possible.

• You are entitled to a rebate of your annual sewerage bill to cover damages to the inside of your home caused by flooding from the public sewer.

• Don’t forget to check whether your household insurance covers damage from sewer flooding.

Consumer Council for Water

Who are we?
• CCWater was established in 2005 to provide strong representation for water customers in England and Wales.
• We are a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Welsh Government.
• We are independent of water companies and regulators.

What have we achieved for water customers?
• Ensured that average household water & sewerage bills will fall by 5 per cent by 2020, before inflation is added, by putting customers at the heart of the 2014 Price Review.
• Helped over 300,000 customers with complaints or enquiries about their water and sewerage services and secured more than £25 million in compensation and rebates since 2005.
• Overseen more than a 60 per cent reduction in customer complaints since their peak in 2007/08 through challenging water companies to get more things ‘right first time.’
• Achieved all of this and more at an annual cost of just 21p per water customer.

Tim Clarke - Senior Communications Officer - Consumer Council for Water - 1st Floor, Victoria Square House Victoria Square - Birmingham B2 4AJ - 0121 345 1005 - 07778160803 - @WaterWatchdog

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