Page last updated at 05:43 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 06:43 UK

Toilet humour used to help sewers

Welsh Water have filmed a spoof cowboy film to highlight what they call the 'dirty dozen' - the twelve most commonly flushed items that cause drain blockages

A spoof cowboy video is asking the public not to throw a "Dirty Dozen" items down the toilet because of the resulting cost of unblocking sewers.

The video, produced by Welsh Water, stars pupils from Pontypridd and is being launched at the National Eisteddfod in Bala.

The "Dirty Dozen" includes condoms, sanitary products, cotton buds, razors and even nappies.

Welsh Water said it cost about £1m each year to unblock sewers.

The aim of the video is to make people aware of the the top 12 items flushed away which can block public and private sewers.

The company said the items could cause pollution of streams and rivers, overflowing toilets and large bills for householders to pay for clearing waste pipes.

In addition to items flushed down the toilet, Welsh Water said people had been known to dispose of items down manhole covers, adding: "We have discovered television sets, chairs and on one occasion a dead cow."

Sewers definitely can't cope with objects such as nappies - which people sometimes try to flush away
Helen Smith, Welsh Water

The video features pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, Church Village, in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

It is set in an old Wild West saloon bar and stars 16-year-old Jay Worley as the tough sheriff determined to stop the Dirty Dozen, with the help of five others.

The film is being shown on the large screens at the Eisteddfod Maes (field).

The Dirty Dozen
Condoms and femidoms
Tampons and applicators
Razor blades
Cotton buds
Syringes and needles
Cleansing wipes
Bandages and plasters
Incontinence pads
Disposable nappies
Plastic bags and wrappers
Sanitary towels
Disposable toilet brushes

Helen Smith from Welsh Water, who devised the campaign, said: "Blocked sewers are a major problem that cost millions of pounds a year to clear.

"They result in misery to householders when toilets overflow and can pollute water courses. Many of the blockages are the result of people using their toilets as bins, flushing away inappropriate objects.

"This is a long-standing problem and we've decided to tackle it in a different way.

"Our Dirty Dozen film is a fun approach to a serious subject and we hope that young people watching it will take the information on board - and spread the message."

She added the company was in the process of upgrading its sewerage network, much of which dates back 50 years or more.

"The demand on the system has increased greatly in recent years due to urbanisation and the amount of rain water running off roofs and roadways straight into sewers," she said.

"Most old sewer pipes are only four inches in diameter, so they can easily get blocked by a build up of even small items such as cotton buds and wet wipes.

"They definitely can't cope with objects such as nappies - which people sometimes try to flush away."

Keep Wales Tidy's chief executive Tegryn Jones welcomed the campaign, adding: "Apart from damaging streams and rivers some small items such as cotton buds end up as litter on our beautiful beaches. Bins are for waste - not toilets."

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