Northumbrian Water is urging customers to beware of what they flush down their toilets.
This year the water company predicts that it will spend around £1.2million clearing more than 17,500 blocked drains and sewers – a cost that is ultimately passed on to the customer.
Nappies, cotton buds and kitchen grease are some of the most common culprits.
They clog up drains across the North East, as people put these items down sinks and toilets instead of into a bin.
As a result, the water company will spend around £370,000 to send these items from its 414 treatment works to landfill, where they should have gone in the first place.
Northumbria Water has now developed a new customer education campaign to tackle the issue.
The 'Love your drain' campaign centres around the character, Dwaine Pipe, who becomes blocked and unwell when he is fed the wrong things.
Richard Warneford, wastewater director at Northumbrian Water, has seen sewers blocked by many unexpected items over the years, from wipes to underwear and even a piranha!
He said: "We have developed the 'Love your drain' campaign to help our customers after discovering that most people are unaware that items they regularly put down the toilet or sink could block up the sewers in their neighbourhood.
"The most common cause of blockages are items that claim to be 'flushable', such as cleansing wipes.
“These products do not break down like toilet paper does when flushed and should always be put in a bin.
"Blockages can also have a negative impact on the environment as they can result in polluted rivers, streams and beaches."
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