Wallace, the wet wipe monster, heads to East Looe to highlight why 'flushing' is bad for bathing

Marine Conservation Society brings answers to pollution problems at Looe Festival of the Sea

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is bringing its monster made of wet wipes to the Looe Festival of the Sea (Sunday 4th June) to highlight why being a ‘flusher’ in the bathroom rather than a ‘binner’ is bad for the bathing water quality at beaches like East Looe.

The charity says that flushing anything but “the 3Ps” - pee poo and paper - down the loo can lead to blocked drains resulting in pollution on beaches and in the sea.

Three metres tall and eight metres wide ‘Wallace’ will be on show at East Looe beach as part of the Looe Marine Conservation Group Festival of the Sea. He’ll help the charity explain to the public the financial and environmental cost of putting the wrong stuff down the loo!

MCS says that the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches has increased by almost 700% over the last decade. Wet wipes are commonly used in the bathroom to remove make-up clean up babies’ bottoms and wipe toilet seats and once used are then often popped down the toilet and flushed. And that’s where it all goes wrong! Water companies are finding that when flushed wipes result in blockages because they don’t meet the water industry standard allowing them to be flushed. South West Water says it costs them and their customers £4.5million each year to clear around 8 500 blockages in their sewerage network - about 65% of which are caused by wipes and other sanitary products being flushed down the toilet. These blockages can result in localised flooding in people’s homes or gardens and can cause sewers to overflow onto beaches and into the sea.

This type of pollution can affect the bathing water quality at beaches like East Looe.

In 2015 East Looe bathing water was classified as ‘Poor’ and signs were displayed advising against bathing. In 2016 with the help of The Looe Bathing Water Quality Partnership involving local organisations and the community working together on initiatives to reduce sewer overflows introduce better farming practices and anti-pollution campaigns the bathing water quality had risen to ‘Sufficient’.

MCS Water Quality Programme Manager Rachel Wyatt says pollution comes from a variety of sources: “At East Looe the main source of pollution is from farmland with a smaller amount coming from the surrounding town. It’s also affected by sewer overflow pipes which are designed to prevent localised flooding. They allow rainwater and diluted sewage to flow into rivers and the sea relieving pressure on the sewerage system during periods of high rainfall. Because the pollution comes from a wide range of sources it’s imperative communities work together. “

By taking ‘Wallace’ to East Looe MCS hopes to raise awareness in the town of the importance of clean bathing waters and how everyone can do their part to reduce pollution. The charity will be asking people to remember that all wet wipes belong in the bin and only the 3Ps ” - Pee Poo and Paper ” - should be flushed down the toilet. Further information about wet wipes and the problems they cause can be read at www.wetwipesturnnasty.co.uk

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