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It won’t flush! Experiment highlights the blockages caused by wipes

It won’t flush! Experiment highlights the blockages caused by wipes

Monday 04 October 2021

It won’t flush! Experiment highlights the blockages caused by wipes


Guernsey Water is spending more than £1,200 every week clearing blockages of materials such as so-called ‘flushable’ wipes.

Guernsey Water has highlighted the significant impact wipes can have on the Island’s drainage system with an experiment it commenced in October 2019.

700 days later, the utility company has shared the results of an experiment where various wipes were submerged in jars of water in order to demonstrate just how long it can take for products to break down. 

A baby wipe was shown to still be fully intact, despite being submerged for approximately 700 days.

Even more concerning was the remaining substance of a ‘flushable’ wipe, which showed only minimal signs of degrading over the same time period. 

"Blockages can result in sewer flooding, environmental damage and the back-up of sewage into properties”

Jon Holt, Guernsey Water’s Operations Manager said: “Given the fact that a typical flush in Guernsey will reach a pump within one hour, the risk of potential damage and blockages as a result of flushing wipes is very clear.”

“Last year we dealt with 57 pump blockages, the majority of which were a direct result of the flushing of wipes. Blockages aren’t just an issue we have to deal with, they can result in sewer flooding, environmental damage and even the back-up of sewage into properties.”

The utility advised that approximately 2 tonnes of non-biodegradable material is removed from Belle Greve wastewater centre every week at a cost of £615.00 per tonne. 

Mr Holt continued: “By taking the simple steps to flush responsibly, only flushing pee, poo and (toilet) paper, we can all help to prevent pump and sewer blockages on island.”

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