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Thames Water urges festival-goers to ‘flush smart’

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Thames Water is urging festival-goers to ‘flush smart’ this summer to prevent blockages.

Sleeping bags, mobile phones, and inflatables are among the many unusual items dragged out of sewage systems by the water company.

With the UK’s famous Reading Festival back this week, the water company urged revellers to think twice about what they put down the toilets. The firm expected to take away 750,000 litres of waste from the festival site over the five days, for it to be converted into renewable energy at the nearby Reading sewage treatment works.

Thames Water, which is working towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, will work with A1 Group to run a fleet of tankers around the clock to process and treat the huge quantity of human waste generated by music fans.

“We know how excited everyone is to see the return of Reading Festival and we’ll be working day and night from Wednesday, when people start arriving, collecting and treating close to a million litres of sewage from the toilets,” said Andrew Scott, Thames Water’s regional operations manager for waste.

“We want everyone to enjoy it but would urge people to please be careful about what they put down the infamous festival toilets. In the past, we’ve had to drag out sleeping bags, foil blankets, mobile phones, and even more unusual finds like toys and inflatables, so they don’t clog up our machines. This is a revolting job and unnecessary if people dispose of their waste responsibly.”

Once the waste arrives at the sewage works, it will be converted into electricity for the site by creating gas sludge, generating enough energy to power two homes for a day.

Reading sewage works produces 50% of all the electricity it uses, while Thames Water as a whole generates around a quarter of the power it needs from waste.