Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 8/04/2020 12:48 p.m.
Toilet paper panic buying in the week before lockdown has become toilet paper hoarding – if the quantity of wet wipes being flushed into the sewer system is anything to go by.
Council’s wastewater engineers and contractors have been puzzled by an up-swing in blockages and problems caused by wetwipes being flushed into the system and are asking people to use toilet paper instead.
“All this is very easy to avoid. Only put toilet paper down the toilet. No cleaning wipes, baby wipes, make up removal wipes and facial tissues, kitchen towels, tampons and sanitary products. Nothing made of fabric or plastic,” said Wastewater and Stormwater Operations Manager Andy Keith.
“Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate once it gets into the system and become part of the sludge that flows through the pipes and gets processed,” said Mr Andy Keith.
“Wet wipes are not designed to do that. They drag along the pipes until they snag on something, then sewage builds up behind them and overflows onto back yards, streets, into streams or backflows into bathrooms.
“Wet wipes cause a real mess and expensive bills for home owners. Don’t use them,” said Mr Keith.
When a blockage happens on a property owner’s side of a sewer connection, they have to organise and pay for the clean-up and repairs themselves – often at after-hours call-out rates.
Low-pressure sewer pumps that move sewage from home systems into the public sewer system are also expensive to fix.
Wipes clog their filters and can burn out the pumps. Instructions for avoiding this come with the pumps. Council will usually not charge for the first problem caused by wipes. After that though, the householder may be facing costly bills for repairs.