THE number of drain blockages caused by discarded cooking fat and food waste more then DOUBLED in Swanage last year, Wessex Water has revealed.

After identifying the seaside town as a particular hotspot, Wessex Water representatives are set to launch an initiative to raise awareness of the issue.

Wessex Water divisional waste manager Luke Beattie said: "We are finding that an alarming number of blockages we attend in Swanage are caused by food and cooking waste."

Sewerage crews cleared more than twice as many kitchen related blockages in Swanage in 2016 compared to the previous year, figures show. On average, the company deals with around 33,000 blockages in its region each year. Experts estimate around one third of these blockages are caused by fats, oils and greases.

Mr Beattie said: "Fats, oils and greases in liquid form might not appear harmful but they congeal to form blockages in pipes, drains and sewers. This can lead to flooding and pollution.

"Blockages can also mean that what you flush comes back up through your toilet, sink or manhole and flood your home or a neighbours."

Wessex Water staff will be at Swanage Co-op on October 14 to raise awareness of the issue, handing out free 'gunk pots' for collecting fat as well as leaflets and advice to customers.

The water company is also calling for clearer labelling on wet wipes and other bathroom products that can clog up toilets, drains and sewers.

Mr Beattie said: "Most of the other blockages we deal with can be traced back to the bathroom, where wet wipes and sanitary products are wrongly flushed down the loo.

"We always urge customers to only flush the three Ps – paper, poo and pee – down the toilet."

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