Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 10:10 UK

Campaign to tackle 'sewer abuse'

A water company has started a campaign to stop "sewer abuse" after almost half its customers admitted flushing unsuitable products down their toilets.

A survey by 500 Thames Water customers found that 41% admitted to the misdemeanour with two in five of the culprits having had blocked drains.

Most blockages are caused by cooking fats and oils, which congeal to form a thick layer around the pipe.

The water firm aims to raise customer awareness about the issue.

Items which can cause blockages include nappies, kitchen roll, food waste and condoms.

Steve Shine, Thames Water chief operating officer, said: "This year alone we have had to deal with 55,000 blockages in London and the Thames Valley, resulting in flooding to 7,000 homes and gardens.

"The majority of blockages are caused by sewer abuse."

Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, said: "Sewage flooding into people's homes and gardens is extremely unpleasant and should be unacceptable.

"No one should have to put up with this."

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