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

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.

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