The Sewerage Network Abuse Partnership (SNAP) brings together water industry professionals and researchers to improve public awareness of the damage caused by misuse of the sewerage network for disposal of non-sewage waste.
SNAP aims to promote understanding of the purpose and use of sewers and surface water (rainwater) drainage systems in an attempt to prevent sewer blockages, and overload of the wastewater systems that cause flooding, environmental pollution and damage to the infrastructure and processing plants.
This includes information and best practice guidance on disposal of consumer products, FOG (fats, oils and grease), food and healthcare waste, the use of macerators and plumbing misconnections from homes. It also focuses upon the effects of non-trade effluents, such as building debris, currently released into sewers.
Many initiatives have already been launched locally by water and sewerage companies and nationally with the support of government and stakeholders through projects such as the ConnectRight campaign* to address plumbing misconnections from homes.
For more information on the correct disposal of items, and what items can be flushed; follow the links below:
Manufacturers are developing ever more innovative brands of toilet paper, biodegradable sanitary towels and wipes. These are frequently disposed of down the toilet and into the sewerage system. Water companies have practical concerns about the suitability of disposing of many of these so-called 'flushable products' into public and private drainage and sewerage networks rather than as municipal solid waste.
The water industry does not accept that a product is flushable unless it is compliant with the tests described within the SNAP protocol. The industry seeks to work with manufacturers to further develop this voluntary code. The overall aim is to reduce the burden of sewer blockages and associated costs, to protect homes and the environment from used personal products and sewage waste, and to ensure that all waste is dealt with in its proper place.
The SNAP protocol is a voluntary test that sanitary manufacturers can use to establish whether their individual sanitary or hygiene product may be considered as suitable for foul drain and sewer disposal via the toilet. Developers and manufacturers are advised to have their base product tested (for disintegration) before progressing to development and production of the full product. The reason for this is if the base product fails there is no point in further developing that product. If the base material passes, then a full suite of tests can be undertaken on the completed ready for sale product. This is necessary because lotions can sometimes make quite a difference to performance etc. Some may inhibit the disintegration process. It is advised that the WC flush, drainline and settlement tests are conducted only after the disintegration test on base product is passed.
The emerging issue of microplastics contained in some of these 'flushable' labelled products has added an additional concern for the water industry. These microplastics have the potential to harm marine and river wildlife as well as the possibility of entering the human food chain. Until further research is conducted into this issue, the water industry is asking manufacturers and retailers to take a precautionary principle and stop selling wipes and products as flushable until more evidence is gained.
Water companies are communicating the importance to customers of only flushing the 3 ps - pee, poo and (toilet) paper.
* The ConnectRight campaign brings together national stakeholders working in partnership to reduce water pollution: the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, the Consumer Council for Water, Defra, the Environment Agency and Water UK.
ConnectRight aims to reduce water pollution by raising awareness and understanding of misconnections and the environmental problems caused by them, helping homeowners to address misconnections, with advice from their local water and sewerage company where needed.