Check your plumbing

Are you misconnected?

One of the biggest ways you can help your local rivers is to check your plumbing. Sewer misconnections are causing pollution of watercourses in the Stour catchment – but what are they, and how do you know if you’ve got one?

We all know that wastewater leaves our houses and goes into the sewer system, but there are actually two different sewer systems – and never the twain should meet!

Waste water from toilets, sinks, baths and appliances like your washing machine and dishwasher should go into the wastewater sewer. It then goes to a sewage works where it is filtered and treated.

Rain water, from your gutters and from road drains, goes into the surface water sewer. This water goes straight into rivers, untreated.

Unfortunately, some households are misconnected – polluting wastewater is going into the surface water system, and straight into our rivers!

In some areas 1 in 5 properties are misconnected! It has been estimated that half a million homes nationwide could have this problem.

Together with Our Stour sponsors Southern Water, we are encouraging householders to check whether they have misconnections in their home.

Check your plumbing!

If you live in a house built after 1920 you will almost certainly have separate sewage systems and you need to check you are properly connected (houses built before then have ‘combined’ sewers that take everything to the sewage works).

Misconnections often happen:

  • when extensions are built
  • when new bathrooms, kitchens or toilets are added
  • when changes have been made to the original drainage
  • when new washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers have been plumbed in

Even if none of these apply to you, it is still worth checking. Look at the downpipes from roof guttering and see if any pipes are connected to them. If you suspect a misconnection, you can use vegetable dyes to trace where water is going. Fine out more at the Water Wise website.

There’s more you can do

Misconnections are not the only problem. Even where homes are correctly connected, flushing the wrong thing down the toilet or pouring oil down the sink can cause problems. Find out about The Unflushables here. And find out how to correctly dispose of kitchen fat here.


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