Schoolchildren have been taught the dangers of putting the wrong items into the sewer network as part of a drive to prevent future pollution.
Pupils at St Luke’s RC Primary School in Mayfield were the first to take part in the fun and educational visits as part of the two-month Scottish Water campaign which kicked of last week. More than 180 pupils took part last Friday.
St Luke’s headteacher Lindsey Walker said: “We are doing a lot of work in the classroom to educate the children about the damage done to the environment by disposable plastics. Having Scottish Water staff visiting and talking first-hand about their work and highlighting what damage people can do has been has been very useful and really enjoyable for our classes.”
Primary 7 pupil Cole Hamilton (11)was one of the youngsters who took part in the session. He said: “It was really interesting to learn about the water cycle. I had no idea sewers were so narrow. It is no wonder they get blocked if we put the wrong stuff, stuff like wipes, in there.
“We have been learning about the environment and plastic pollution and how things we do can lead to stuff getting in the sea like bags and bottle that can injure or even kill sea life. It is so sad.
“This has definitely made us realise how careful we have to be when throwing things away, including down the toilet or sink.”
One pupil told how she and her family had to move to their grandmother’s house temporarily when her father had put sweet papers down the toilet and it got blocked.
Another told how they loved taking park in litter-picks at the school and in the community “to look after the environment”.
St Luke’s pupils are among youngsters from 12 schools in the area taking part in a competition, run with Midlothian Council, to design a poster with the 3Ps message. The winning entry will be shown on a large billboard near Newtongrange for a month.
Scott Fraser, regional communities manager at Scottish Water, who took part in the school visit, said: “It was great getting the chance to speak to so many youngsters about the work we do and about what they can do to help the environment by following our 3P’s rule. They were so interested and enthusiastic and asked some great questions, showing how much they know and care about the environment.
“These school talks play a large part of our current campaign to reduce sewer blockages and in doing so to protecting the local environment. The children leave eager to pass on what they’ve learned to their family and friends - spreading the message about our cycle campaign and the work we do to help care for the environment and how each and every one of them can play their part too.”
Scottish Water staff will deliver talks to around a dozen schools located near where a major clean-up of sewage debris has been taking place – the Mary Burn near Easthouses and on the River South Esk at Newbattle Viaduct.
The debris which made its way to the burn included a large number of wet wipes and sanitary items. It took weeks for it to be collected by Scottish Water who had to call in experts from Rentokil to help clean up the area.
Local community activists who helped highlight the recent pollution incidents will also be involved in the campaign.
Some of them will also be on the judging panel for the school poster competition along with local politicians and Scottish Water representatives.
Scottish Water maintains more than 380 miles of sewer pipes in Midlothian which take waste water away from homes and businesses in the area. The campaign has been welcomed by local campaigners, Colin Beattie, Midlothian North and MSP and Provost of Midlothian, Councillor Peter Smaill.
For information on what to flush down the loo go to: https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/you-and-your-home/your-home/keep-the-water-cycle-running-smoothly/know-your-bathroom-checklist