Mass of wet wipes and cotton buds greet engineers as River Kelvin works resume

By Ellen Thomson at

A stark reminder of how people are polluting the River Kelvin has been highlighted by Scottish Water.

A temporary dam on the River Kelvin in the West End has become clogged up with a mass of wet wipes and cotton buds.

The waste has been flushed down the toilet when it should be placed in the bin.

Dam on the Kelvin

Toilet waste can be seen clogging up the temporary dam.

The dam was installed at the Old Flint Mill on the Kelvin Walkway to protect a new waste water filter system being built to clean up the river.

Work is resuming this week after a three-month pause due to the coronavirus.

Ruaridh MacGregor, corporate affairs manager in Scottish Water’s west region, said the rubbish was a reminder why the work was needed.

He said: “The amount of rubbish which has gathered at the temporary dam during the break on this project clearly demonstrates the need for the improvement work to take place.


“However, it would also be good if people didn’t flush these items in the first place.

“Products such as wet wipes, cotton wool and cotton buds don’t disintegrate in our network and can cause flooding and environmental issues.

“We ask everyone to only flush the 3Ps – that’s Pee, Poo and (toilet) Paper.

“Everything else should go in the bin.”

Aerial shot of the site at Old Flint Mill.

Aerial shot of the site at Old Flint Mill.

The project is being delivered by Scottish Water’s alliance partner amey (correct) Black and Veatch (aBV).

The work will be carried out in line with Scottish government guidelines for the construction industry.

Keep Scotland Beautiful, a charity which encourages people to take action to improve and protect the environment, has echoed these sentiments.

Paul Wallace, campaigns and social innovation manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “With 80% of marine litter coming from land, and via drains and waterways it is important that people are aware of the impact of their actions at home on our fragile marine environment.


“Our Upstream Battle campaign research highlighted that in the Clyde Valley wet wipes and cotton buds both appeared in the top five most littered items across a number of sites.

“Our message is simple – only flush pee, poo and paper – if you don’t you may meet it again on your next walk along the river or trip to the beach.”

New infrastructure is being installed at eleven locations along the River Kelvin to help prevent items which are wrongly flushed down the toilet.

Household toilet waste is normally carried along the sewerage system into treatment plants, but the process can be overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain and flooding.

The new infrastructure will stop items like rags, baby wipes, and plastic cotton buds overflowing into the River Kelvin during severe storms and reduce the frequency and volume of waste water spillages in storm conditions.

The upgrade will see the installation of mechanical screens on the overflow pipes to prevent objects greater than 6mm overflowing into the river.

More project information can be found at