South Lakes eco-park hit by wet wipe problem

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant editor

A caravan park says its efforts to operate an eco-friendly business are being blocked by families using wet wipes in place of loo paper.

The fast-growing trend, says Skelwith Fold caravan park in Ambleside, is affecting the way it processes sewerage naturally through a specially planted reed bed.

Park director Henry Wild said wet wipes, unlike toilet paper, did not degrade in time to pass through the roots of the reed bed where waste water is treated organically. Instead, the wipes absorb pollutants such as fat, and go on to clog up pipes and damage pumps.

Now in a bid to stop the threat, the park is offering to give a premium brand toilet roll to newly arrived guests in exchange for their wet wipes which will then be composted.

Although Skelwith Fold played host to more than 400 families at its busiest times, said Mr Wild, the park's biological purification system normally coped very well.

Its reed bed was one of the environmentally-friendly features which this year resulted in the park being presented with the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.

But Mr Wild said: “We don't blame our holidaymakers because the packaging on many of these products claims that they are biodegradable or flushable – but this simply isn't the case.

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“Ordinary toilet paper disintegrates within seconds of being in contact with water, but wet wipes do not break down and can cause unspeakable problems once they enter the system.

“In high season, we estimate that a lavatory is being flushed every 30 seconds at Skelwith Fold, and we designed our reed bed to handle comfortably this volume of effluent.

“However, in the past year we have seen a surge in the use of wet wipes which are putting a block, quite literally, on our aim of putting nature in place of industrialised treatment," added Mr Wild.

But the writing will soon be on the wall for Britain's latest loo accessory if, as Mr Wild hopes, guests take up his park's offer to recycle their wet wipes as compost.

“Reeds do a fantastic job of filtering and cleaning sewerage without machinery or the addition of chemicals which could harm wildlife,” said Mr Wild.

“But even mother nature can’t cope with wet wipes, so those we exchange for loo rolls will be composted and used as a mulch for our new plantings. Hopefully, we'll then be putting this matter to bed in every sense.”

Comments (4)

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8:17pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Kendmoor says...

Freshu Toilet Tissue Gel: its the same as using a wet wipe, but you just add the gel to regular toilet tissue..everyones problems solved.

Anyway, Somehow I don't think the exchange program will work - The reason people are using wet-wipes is because they don't want to use toilet roll in the first place. They need educating about the damage wet-wipes are causing (and educating about products like Freshu); even if it is just to tell them to buy Perhaps another option would be to place a bin in the stall with a sign saying please don't flush any type of wet wipe down the loo use bins provided.
Freshu Toilet Tissue Gel: its the same as using a wet wipe, but you just add the gel to regular toilet tissue..everyones problems solved. Anyway, Somehow I don't think the exchange program will work - The reason people are using wet-wipes is because they don't want to use toilet roll in the first place. They need educating about the damage wet-wipes are causing (and educating about products like Freshu); even if it is just to tell them to buy Perhaps another option would be to place a bin in the stall with a sign saying please don't flush any type of wet wipe down the loo use bins provided. Kendmoor
  • Score: 0

11:31pm Wed 7 Nov 12

boris plasticmac says...

This article and Kendmoor's comment have opened a new world for me .
I'm amazed the amount of in depth knowledge people have on the subject of toilet paper and wet wipes.
I am a bit worried however, that readers may have a bit of a fixation with the subject, as I see the most read subject on the site is currently "Kendal pub flushed with pride".
This article and Kendmoor's comment have opened a new world for me . I'm amazed the amount of in depth knowledge people have on the subject of toilet paper and wet wipes. I am a bit worried however, that readers may have a bit of a fixation with the subject, as I see the most read subject on the site is currently "Kendal pub flushed with pride". boris plasticmac
  • Score: 0

9:30am Thu 8 Nov 12

Reverend Mark says...

Promote the bidet.
Promote the bidet. Reverend Mark
  • Score: 0

6:33pm Tue 13 Nov 12

blade stall says...

As a holiday park operator i fully agree. I find it insulting that despite being told people still flush them. Its typical of todays throw away society.... i spend hours and hours and thousands of pounds dealing with the aftermath... just bin them.
As a holiday park operator i fully agree. I find it insulting that despite being told people still flush them. Its typical of todays throw away society.... i spend hours and hours and thousands of pounds dealing with the aftermath... just bin them. blade stall
  • Score: 0

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