A stark warning has been issued to residents across south Essex over blocked drains caused by baby wipes and other unsuitable items, which costs Anglian Water an incredible £15million a year to clear.

Anglian Water was called to a particularly bad sewage leak in Billericay after baby wipes were flushed down the toilet, causing the major blockage.

Engineers are called to a blockage every 15 minutes across Essex, and the majority of these are caused by the flushing of non-flush items.

Incidents such as the recent one in Billericay have the potential to flood homes and gardens as well as damaging the environment.

The majority of these avoidable blockages are caused by wipes, nappies, cotton buds and sanitary products.

Now Anglian Water is reminding the public what should and should not be flushed down the toilet.

The company insists only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed to keep the country’s sewers clean.

Sarah Dobson, from Anglian Water said: “Anglian Water engineers clear a blockage every 15 minutes in this region, the vast majority of which are completely avoidable.

“They are invariably caused by wipes, nappies, cotton buds and sanitary products.

“Ultimately blockages can flood homes, gardens and even damage the environment, so please think before you flush.

“The good news is everyone can do their bit to keep pipes clear and prevent a repeat blockage.

“Our advice on how to keep our sewers clear needs to be adhered to in order to prevent this happening as it is extremely costly to deal with and can be easily avoided.

“Wipes, nappies and cotton buds should be binned rather than flushed down the toilet.

“We spend £15million every year jetting and clearing blocked sewers - that’s money that could be better used elsewhere.”

The company posted some graphic photos on Twitter to highlight the problems this can cause.

The tweet reads: “Sorry to have to share this - this is what happens when wipes get flushed down the loo.

“This blockage was dealt with by our Billericay team recently after causing a sewage leak.

“Please bin it, don’t flush it!”