Don’t let ‘festive fatbergs’ be your Christmas disaster

Christmas cooks are being warned not to wash oil and fat down the sink to help stop fatbergs in the sewers.

Pouring turkey drippings, oil, gravy and other festive leftovers down the plughole is a recipe for disaster that could make it a costly Christmas for unsuspecting households.

As millions of people across the north-west prepare to tuck into their Christmas dinner, water firm United Utilities is urging everyone to stop and think about what they pour down the sink and not run the risk of a blocked drain or seeing their home flooded with sewage.

Fatty substances put a huge strain on the sewer network and can create giant pipe-blocking ‘fatbergs’ which feast on our festive leftovers, enabling them to grow up to 250 metres long.

Blockages are one of the main reasons the number of properties across England and Wales flooded with sewage increased by almost a third in 2016/17.

Tony Griffiths, from United Utilities said, “Each year we tackle on average 28,000 blockages on the sewers which serve the North West, costing around £10 million.

"We are exploring different options to see how we can change attitudes and work with food outlets to make their kitchen sewer friendly, for example by installing fat traps to stop leftover food from entering the public sewer” he added.

Greasy leftovers can also clog up a property’s drains, landing the householder with a callout charge for someone to clear up the mess.

Steve Grebby, Consumer Council for Water’s sewer expert, said: “We all love a surprise at Christmas but seeing your home flooded with raw sewage isn’t one of them.”

“There are lots of simple ways to safely dispose of leftover fat or grease, including letting these substances 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.”

The Cheshire-base water and sewerage firm which serves seven million domestic customers and 200,000 business customers.

The water industry currently spends up to £100 million a year clearing blockages caused by inappropriate items being put down the plughole and sink, with customers footing the bill through their sewerage charges.