Bad plumbing 'damaging the environment'

Water bosses in the north-east of England are warning that bad practice when it comes to plumbing in bathrooms and kitchens is creating a health and environmental hazard.

The Darlington & Stockton Times reports there have been around 100 incidents where properties have been mis-connected across the region. Part of the problem stems from toilets, baths and washing machines being wrongly linked up to surface water sewer systems, which subsequently contribute towards the pollution of rivers, streams and beaches.

Furthermore, downpipes and gutters that take rain from rooftops are also being mis-connected, increasing the risk of flooding in the area.

Northumbrian Water's waste water director Richard Warneford said: "Extensive survey work is necessary to identify mis-connections, then we work with customers to ensure faults are rectified as soon as possible.

"They could also have happened accidentally or been made in ignorance or by carelessness when extensions or house alterations were built."

The issue is now the focus of a number of programmes being run in Darlington and Thornaby, while Northumbrian Water has also created a dedicated taskforce to offer support and advice to deal with the problem.

Furthermore, it is believed that up to 27,000 homes could now need inspecting to try to trace the source of pollution in the region's water networks.

To raise awareness of the situation, Northumbrian Water's sewerage support manager Alison Wilson recently posed for a photoshoot in a bath in local beauty spot Cocker Beck.

The organisation said part of the problem could be historical, with older houses more likely to contain plumbing that could be faulty. It has now requested residents to carry out their own checks on their properties to make sure everything is hooked up correctly.

Legally, the person who owns the building is responsible for any damage their faulty plumbing causes to the environment.

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