NI Water out to catch the ‘Dirty Dozen’

Picture: Michael Cooper
Picture: Michael Cooper

NI Water has set up a team to combat the ever growing threat to our sewers caused by the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ are the twelve most common items the public flush and dump down our sewers. The ring leader is the innocent looking Baby Wipe, closely followed by Sanitary Towel. These ordinary household items head a gang of everyday products, including cotton wool, nappies and condoms that cause havoc with the sewer system when flushed down the toilet or dumped in the sewers.

A new tanker and state of the art CCTV equipment has been purchased and a ‘dirty dozen’ team has been set up to tackle blockages caused by this notorious gang.

Head of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ team, Des Nevin, Wastewater Networks Manager, explains: “We are literally fighting a daily battle to clear blocked sewers at a cost of over £1.7 million to NI Water every year. These items, if used correctly, are harmless. It is the actions of each and every one of us, flushing and dumping them instead of putting them in the bin that is causing the damage.

“As they travel through our sewer system, they gather together forming balls of ‘rags’. The blockage can become trapped near homes and businesses, causing sewage to spill out from manholes and creating havoc.

“If the blockage makes its way to our treatment works, it can clog the pumps, potentially causing a serious pollution incident.

“The new team and equipment NI Water has invested in, at a cost of £250K enables us to respond quickly to reports of blockages in a timely and cost efficient manner.

“However, we will never win this battle on our own. We need the support of the public to work with us to dispose of these items in the bin rather than down the sewer. Together we can beat the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and keep our sewers running freely!”

You can view first-hand the damage inappropriate items can do to a sewer by visiting

A leaflet detailing all the ‘Dirty Dozen’ gang can be found at