Call of Nature: Campaign gets serious about sewage and aims to prevent pollution in North West lakes, rivers and seas from poorly maintained private sewerage systems

Call of Nature is a new campaign to raise awareness of the pollution that badly maintained septic tanks, cesspits and package sewage treatment plants could cause to the North West’s rivers and waterways.

The North West region has the highest number of private sewerage systems in the UK with 60,000 properties not connected to the public sewer network. Septic tanks work like miniature sewage treatment systems, which store and treat waste from households.

A well maintained septic tank does not cause any problems, however when they are not serviced properly, they can have a negative impact on the environment, spreading disease in animals and humans and causing pollution in lakes, rivers and seas.

The Call of Nature campaign aims to make people aware of the risks of not looking after an off-mains sewage treatment system. The campaign, which is led by Morecambe Bay Partnership with support from the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Healthy Waterways Trust, British Water and the Lune, Eden, Ribble, Wyre, South Cumbria and West Cumbria rivers trusts, hopes to convince people that their actions can make a difference.

Susannah Bleakley, Executive Director from Morecambe Bay Partnership, said: “The North West is stunning – and like most northerners I am proud to call it my home.  Today we’re encouraging everyone to show pride in this magnificent region by helping to keep it clean and healthy.  We want people to think again about how they use and maintain septic tanks and other off-mains treatment systems. Think before you flush, no wipes or nappies; think before you pour, no fats and paints; and check the tank for smells and leaks.  You can find out more at callofnature.info and then you can be confident that you are helping to keep our lakes, rivers and coastline clean and beautiful.”

Simon Bennett from the Environment Agency, one of the partners supporting the campaign, said: “Materials that are so well thought out and easily understandable, such as those produced as part of this campaign, are a huge help in educating people into how to maintain their sewage treatment systems to prevent pollution of our environment. The Environment Agency will take action if nothing is done to treat a problem, but more often than not, problems only exist due to lack of education and understanding. This campaign really helps to combat that.”

Simon Boyland from United Utilities, said: “Many people simply do not know how to look after their septic tanks, particularly if they have recently moved house and inherited one. They are great if you maintain them and this new useful guide will really help people.”

Marta Perez, Technical Manager at British Water, said: “Increasing awareness of pollution risks caused by septic tanks and package treatment plants is crucial. Information, understanding and maintenance carried out by professionals, is key to keep the environment safe.”

Private sewage treatment systems need to be repaired or replaced if they are not in good working order by an accredited service engineer. Signs that it needs repairing or replacing will include; leaks, cracks in tank walls or pipes, blocked pipes, pools of water around the drainage point, sewage smells, a failed motor, a failed pump or a failed electrical supply.

It is crucial that you do not flush anything other than paper down the toilet if you have a septic tank. Items such as cotton wool, sanitary products and nappies will not disintegrate.

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