The obvious sign of sewage pollution of a stream or river is the presence of sewage solids in the water, but there may also other indications. These include:

  • toilet debris, such as tissue paper, condoms and sanitary products
  • soap suds or a milky-looking discharge in the water
  • a noticeable sewage smell

Pollution can kill fish and other aquatic life, cause a risk to human health, and also affect biodiversity, amenity value, and the use of water and land for agricultural purposes.

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Causes of sewage pollution

Using toilets as bins

Flushing away rubbish down the toilet can cause blockages in sewerage pipes, sometimes leading to the flooding of homes and pollution of the environment. Our Let's Stop the Block campaign highlights the things that are flushed away to cause problems – and which should be disposed of properly.

Cooking fats

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) poured down kitchen sinks and drains can build up in sewers and cause blockages and flooding. To help avoid this, please dispose of them correctly. Click here to see our advice.

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