Don’t let your DIY spell disaster for local rivers and beaches

The rise in people doing DIY during lockdown has also led to a sharp increase in substances being poured down drains and polluting regional rivers and beaches.
James Devereux, drainage analyst at United Utilities, said: “Many people don’t realise that the drain grids around their homes and in the road are only designed to take rainwater.
“I’ve seen householders pouring paint, plaster and other DIY materials down their own drains and the grids in the road.
“If you pour these substances down surface water drains they can go straight to local rivers and beaches and cause real damage to the environment.”
The North West water and wastewater firm says last month, in the space of an hour, it received three reports of pollution to a local watercourse in Cockermouth, Cumbria caused by people pouring paint and plaster down the drain.
James added: “The only thing going down a surface water drain should be water. Please don’t pour paint, paint thinner, plaster, oils, lubricants or pesticides down drains, make sure you dispose of them safely. Your local council will have advice on disposal facilities in your area.”
Another common problem is misconnections. Anyone carrying out major renovations must make sure that toilets, dishwashers and washing machines are connected to the right drain when they’re fitted. Many properties built after 1920 will have separate foul and surface water drainage.
To make sure your connections are correct, and that you employ a reputable plumber, you can check with ConnectRight ( This organisation aims to prevent misconnections and raise awareness about drainage and water pollution among property owners, the public and professionals. 
James explained: “Misconnections not only make watercourses look unpleasant, they can also cause significant environmental damage. It is important that we all help to protect and enhance our natural environment.”
Sharon Kennedy,  area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “This is a timely reminder from United Utilities about the possible danger of disposing of pollutants in the wrong way. We all need to work together to preserve the environment around local rivers and beaches.  If you notice pollution in your local watercourse, or notice something that doesn’t look right, please report this to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.”
For more information contact the United Utilities Press Office on 0345 072 0822 or