Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 18/03/2020 4:38 p.m.
Anyone who flushes a wet wipe down the toilet risks causing environmental damage and public health risks from sewer blockages.
“Wipes may be publicised as “flushable” but really should not be flushed,” said Council’s Waste and Drainage Manager Simon Charles.
He was commenting on a report that a sudden increase in the use of wet wipes in the Auckland area was causing frequent blockages to the city’s sewer system.
“Wipes are marketed as flushable and people assume that means they break down very quickly like toilet paper, but they don’t.
“We estimate that about 50 tonnes of fabric from these wipes is flushed into our sewer systems every year. Unlike toilet paper that breaks down and is processed, wipes have to be removed before processing because they stay whole.
“Nearly all of the sewer blockages we attend to involve fabrics in one form or another, which get caught on rough places in pipes, or on roots, or clump up with fat in the system.
When a blockage like this occurs there is often a sewage spill from the blocked pipe onto a property, causing a health hazard, or into the environment. Our teams then have to suck up everything that has spilt, remove the blockage, sometimes repair pipes, and then disinfect an area.
“Much of this could be avoided if people flushed toilet paper only, not wipes.”