Published: 00:01, 26 January 2015
A massive 2,155 tons of wet wipes and other materials have been wreaking havoc in Kent's sewers.
Southern Water revealed that "sewer blockers" weighing the equivalent of 718 hippos are causing serious problems underground.
As well as wet wipes, items that should not be flushed down the toilet include cotton wool and sanitary products.
The worst spots in the county are the Motney Hill works in Gillingham, where 526 tons of non-flushable waste has been found, Ham Hill's wastewater treatment works with 396 tons, and 258 tons at Ashford's works.
Elsewhere, Broomfield Bank works in Dover has 168 tons, Aylesford has 153, Canterbury has 120, Weatherlees has 78, Gravesend has 76, Margate has 49, Herne Bay has 42, Queenborough has 39, Whitewall Creek has 31, Faversham has 30 and Sittingbourne has 29.
Southern Water’s wastewater strategy manager Paul Kent said: "The use of wet wipes, and things like make-up wipes, moist toilet tissue and cleaning wipes, apparently rises by 15 percent each year but this trend is putting a strain on our sewers – as shown by the huge amount cleared from our works.
"We urge people to only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and paper..." - Southern Water's Paul Kent
"Unlike toilet roll, these wipes don’t break down when flushed so frequently cause blockages. They can also cause damage at our treatment works as they can get tangled up in pumps and filters.
"Even those said to be ‘flushable’ cause problems – they may flush away but they don’t biodegrade so can still block pipes further down the line.
"The same applies to things like cotton buds, dental floss, make-up wipes and cotton wool. Flushing them causes a pain in the drain, which is why we urge people to only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and paper."
Blockages can lead to pollutions or flooding of homes and gardens, as sewers back up and overflow from manholes.
Southern Waters' other biggest enemy is cooking fat poured down drains, which solidifies over time.
Last year, 11,000 blockages in Southern Water’s region were caused by fat, wipes and other things that should not be in sewers.
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