Southern Water’s Fat Detectives are on the hunt to flush out people who cause blockages by putting fat, oil and grease (FOG) in the sewers.
Dave Burnett, Martyn Chandler and Steve Williams, all former police officers, have swapped a life of crime for a life of grime to become Network Protection and Enforcement Officers with the water company.
Their job is to ensure that Southern Water’s commercial customers, such as restaurants and takeaways, understand the problems caused by FOG in the sewers and install and maintain grease traps to prevent it from getting into the pipes.
Cooking oils and fats solidify as they cool, causing blockages in customers’ pipes and the sewers which can lead to wastewater flooding into streets, gardens and homes.
In the first half of this year, there were almost 4,500 FOG-related blockages across the Southern Water region, including almost 70 on the Isle of Wight.
Dave, from Maidstone, was a Kent detective for 35 years. He said:
“People tend to think that if they run the hot tap, that’ll wash the fat away but it solidifies as it cools.
“I went to one restaurant where the sewer was so badly clogged that the manhole was raised above ground level in the backyard by a build up of FOG.
“People are always surprised to hear about the enforcement side of what we do and that we can prosecute businesses if they don’t heed our advice. Anyone who wants a visit should call Southern Water.”
As well as encouraging people not to pour FOG down the sink, Southern Water’s Pain in the Drain campaign also makes clear that flushing things like wet wipes down the toilet can cause blockages too. Only the three Ps – pee, poo and paper – should go down the toilet, everything else should go in the bin.
Bruce, a fluffy orange monster found in the sewers, is the Fat Detectives’ mascot and helps spread the Pain in the Drain message. You can follow him on Twitter – @MrBruceMonster.
It’s not just fat and wet wipes that turn up in Southern Water’s sewers – snakes, goldfish, cutlery, false teeth, mobile phones, jewellery and even a severed finger have been found in the pipes.
For more information, visit www.southernwater.co.uk/paininthedrain.