Make sure your festive food isn’t a costly pain in the drain

23 December 2023

Tipping turkey fat, gravy and other leftovers down the plughole this Christmas could be a recipe for disaster, Welsh Water is warning households and restaurants across Wales.

As households prepare for a festive feasts with all the trimmings, Welsh Water is urging people across Wales to stop and think about what they pour down the sink, especially over the festive period when the company sees rise in fat, oil and grease clogging up the sewers on an annual basis.

Blocked sewer pipes can increase the risk of homes and businesses being flooded with sewage. Also, greasy leftovers can clog up a property’s drains, landing the householder with a costly callout charge for someone to clean up the mess.

Welsh Water’s Head of Wastewater Networks, Ed Bennett, said: "Fats, oils and grease from homes and businesses can cause major problems to drains and sewers. They may not appear harmful, but when they pass through the drainage system they congeal, harden and stick to the inside of pipes which leads to blockages. Every month, we deal with 2,000 blockages which cost us over £3 million pounds a year to clear.

"Wipe your pans and other greasy items with a kitchen towel before washing them. Put the kitchen towel in the bin and pour any used cooking oil into a container to dispose of – or recycle it if your local authority allows.

"If everyone takes action and does the right thing, we at Welsh Water will be able to reduce the blockages, floods and pollution that cause so much distress. Reducing these blockages will also mean that our not-for-profit company will be able to invest more in other improvements on behalf of our customers. Together, we can stop the block."

Fat Facts

  • Welsh Water spends around £3 million a year clearing avoidable blockages in sewers – the cost is passed onto customers through sewerage bills.
  • Around two thirds of sewer blockages on Welsh Water’s network 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 directly 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 off 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.