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Scottish Water urges customers in the Highlands to help keep the water cycle running

20th February 2015

Photograph of Scottish Water urges customers in the Highlands to help keep the water cycle running

It's been almost a year and a half since Scottish Water launched its national campaign to urge customers to ‘help keep the water cycle running’ and put an end to the high number of blockages caused by people putting the wrong things down their sinks and toilets.

The Scottish Highlands are renowned for their scenic beauty and yet some of the region’s towns and villages have revealed themselves to be harbouring something not so beautiful below their streets and houses.

Approximately 37,000 blockages in Scotland’s drains and sewer network were attended by Scottish Water last year and approximately 80 per cent are caused by people putting the wrong things down their sinks and toilets.

Bathroom waste items such as personal cleansing and baby wipes, cotton buds and nappies being flushed down the toilet, coupled with cooking fat, oils and grease poured down the kitchen sink, can collect and create a blockage of material and solidified fat. This can’t break down easily like toilet paper and collects in large clumps beneath Scotland’s streets leading to the misery of flooding of properties across the country, leaving householders and communities with the hassle and expense of repairing damaged property and sometimes resulting in pollution to local rivers and burns.

This phase of the campaign sees the utility targeting the message at customers in Inverness, Dingwall and Thurso. These locations will provide a hub for the campaign in the Highlands and have been selected as key areas that are amongst some of the worst in Scotland for blocked pipes.

We have previously run campaigns in the other identified blockage hotspot areas of Dunfermline, Hamilton, Dumfries and Stirling where we have been seeing a significant drop in the number of customers contacting us about blockages.

While things may have improved in these areas we are looking to keep the message out there and encourage people to change their habits by disposing of kitchen and bathroom waste responsibly and by saving water.

Monday February 16 marks the beginning of our seven-week national TV, radio and digital advertising campaign, backed by the regional campaigns, and our very own Customer Contact Centre worker, Claire Wilson has a starring role as ‘the voice’ of Scottish Water.

We will be using a variety of means to spread the message to our regional campaign areas which will see us working in partnership with Highland Council, NHS Highland and others as well as bus stop adverts around Inverness , educational talks in schools, information stands at supermarkets and a whole array of other ways to engage with the local community.

Joanna Peebles, Scottish Water’s Regional Communities Manager for Inverness said: "The waste water drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide - less than the diameter of a DVD.

“This drain is designed to take only used water from sinks, showers and baths and pee, poo and toilet paper from the toilet. Scottish Water believes that the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work with our customers in the Highlands to prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place.

“We are also encouraging everyone to turn off the tap while they are brushing their teeth as running a tap can use between two and 26 litres of water a minute.

“Although Scotland has plentiful resources of raw water, the treatment and distribution of water is very energy intensive and heating water in the home counts for a sizeable share of energy use. By using less water you can save money so it makes good sense for our customers to use water wisely."

Bathroon and kitchen checklist
Councillor Graham MacKenzie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Community Services Committee which is responsible for Housing and Waste Management said: “Highland Council is supporting Scottish Water by helping to spread the campaign message to tenants and the wider community within the campaign target areas of Thurso, Dingwall and Inverness. Blocked drains and plumbing and the associated costs of fixing these can easily be avoided if we all avoid putting the wrong things down them in the first place.”

To see Scottish Water’s campaign TV adverts, visit Scottish Water’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/scottishwaterfilm.

Customers can learn more about what they can do to keep the cycle running, what should not be flushed down toilets or poured down sinks and how they can save their drains, protect their homes, their neighbours’ homes and the local environment at www.scottishwater.co.uk/cycle.

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