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South West Water’s Andrew Blake talks to us about completing the SWCP, and his role in managing the SWW sewer network

Completing the SWCP 25 years ago!
In the Summer of 1998, after finishing University, I walked the entire 630-mile route of the South West Coast Path in aid of CLIC Sargent. It took me 31 days to do. 31 days of spectacular views, variable weather and dramatically changing landscapes. I still remember it so clearly nearly 25 years later.

South West Water
Today I work for South West Water as a Sewer Network Protection Team Manager, working with businesses and communities to help reduce the pressures that are put on our network of pipes, pumping stations and sewage treatment works. The work me and my team do, along with our many colleagues across the region, has a direct impact on the beautiful coastal environment that traverses the South West Coast Path. 

Making the link between what we put down our loos and drains and what might end up in our environment is probably not something most of us think of all that often, but small changes to the way we do things, like disposing of wet wipes, nappies etc. into the bin, instead of flushing them down the toilet, can have a really big impact, reducing blockages in the network and ultimately improving water quality.

We can all play a part in improving how we use our sewer system. To help customers and businesses understand the contribution they can make, my team works in our communities and proactively engages with our customers via our ‘Love Your Loo’ and ‘Think Sink’ campaigns.

We actively encourage everyone to love their loo by only flushing pee, paper and poo. Inappropriately flushed baby wipes, hygiene wipes, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products contribute to 8,500 blocked sewers a year. Last year South West Water removed over 450 tonnes of unflushables such as wet wipes, sanitary products and cotton pads from our network, enough to fill 30 double decker buses. 

Our ‘Think Sink’ campaign targets businesses, reminding food service establishments of their responsibilities regarding the proper disposal of fat, oil, grease (FOG) and food waste. 

By keeping our sewers free of wet wipes and other sanitary products as well as ensuring fats, oils and grease are not poured down the sink, we can help reduce the frequency of storm overflows operating and by doing so we can improve the health of our rivers and seas.

South West Water are continuing to invest to maintain and improve the sewer network to help reduce the number of blockages, but we can’t do it alone, we need your help.

Two simple ways to avoid sewer blockages

  • The only thing that should be going down the loo are the 3Ps, that’s pee, paper and poo. Anything else should be bagged and popped in the bin.
  • Tens of thousands of litres of waste fat, cooking oil and grease are poured down sinks in the South West each year along with food waste. When this fat cools it can harden and build up in pipes inside and outside your home, blocking them, which can result in flooding of homes and the environment.  Avoid pouring fats, oils and greases down your sink. Once cooled you can pour cooking oil into a bottle or jar to throw away or take to your nearest household recycling centre to be recycled. Wipe or scrape excess fat off pots and pans and leftover food from plates before washing and dispose of it in your kitchen bin. 

Finally, if you are reading this, chances are that you are one of the millions of people who enjoy the South West Coast Path every year. If you spot anything you think could be a sewage leak or pollution, please call South West Water on 0344 346 2020 so that we can investigate as a priority.

A big thank you to Andrew Blake for telling us about his SWCP journey 25 years ago. We presented him with a Completer certificate last month – pictured here proudly holding it 🙂

We asked Andrew if he could recollect what his favourite part of the path was when he travelled it, he responded with…….

“It is all so varied, and that’s the beauty of it.  I can’t choose a specific section, but the part I remember most favourably was Dorset – probably because it was sunny!”

South West Water have been proud supporters of the South West Coast Path for many years.

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