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Thames Water customers report thousands of sewer blockages using new online tool

Almost 7,000 blocked sewers have been reported by customers of Thames Water since the launch of a new online tool four months ago.

The Report a Blockage Online (RABO) tool allows customers to inform the water company of suspected blockages using a simple online form, following which engineers are dispatched to investigate the issue and when needed, clear any obstructions like fatbergs to help prevent pollution incidents.

Since RABO’s launch in October 2020, more than 6,800 blockages have been reported and raised, with a record 2,100 in February 2021 alone.

Thames Water, on average, spends £18 million every year clearing 75,000 blockages from its sewers, unclogging five house blockages and removing 30 tonnes of material from just one of its sewage treatment works every year.

Many sewer blockages are caused by unflushable items like wet wipes, nappies and sanitary products, which don’t break down in pipes like toilet paper and can combine with fats, oil and grease to create fatbergs, which are huge, solid masses that are difficult to clear and can cause raw sewage to back up and flood homes, businesses and the environment.

Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s Head of Waste Networks said: “I’m delighted with how effective our new online tool has been in identifying sewer blockages and want to thank everyone who has reported a suspected blockage to us.

“Thanks to the hard work and vision of our digital and operational teams, we have another important weapon in our armoury as we battle against sewer blockages and fatbergs and I hope it can become even more successful in preventing pollution incidents in the future.

“As well as helping us find blockages, I’d urge customers to help us avoid them by being careful what they put down their drains. As always, we’d urge everyone to only flush the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper – to help avoid problems in the future.”

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