Council says flushing wipes, blocks pipes

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is urging the community to only flush toilet paper down the toilet, after seeing an increase in pipe blockages in the last two months

TRC General Manager of Water and Waste, Damian Platts said the community must stop flushing wipes, nappies and paper towels even if branded ‘disposable’.

“The last four months Council has seen an increase of around 25% in sewer blockages from the previous 12 months with significant increases in February and March,” Mr Platts said.

“Putting the wrong thing down the toilet and sink causes blockages and breakdowns in our wastewater systems. It can lead to unnecessary expense, reduced treatment efficiency and environmental problems.

“Blockages caused by foreign matter, mostly non-flushable wipes are avoidable.

“Flushing the wrong thing down the toilet leads to costly blockages in the network, especially at sewer pump stations and at the wastewater treatment plants.

“Blocked pipes cause pumps to seize meaning costs are incurred in de-commissioning and then re-commissioning this vital equipment.

graphsewerblockagesmarch2020web

“At the treatment plants, it collects on screens and needs to be cleaned manually.

“Blockages in pipes are caused by tree root infiltration, the build-up of fats and non-disposable wipes compound this problem, increasing the size of the blockage and making removal more difficult.

“The simple solution is to avoid placing these items down the toilet.

Mr Platts said doing the wrong thing by your dunny is a drain on resources and flushes ratepayer dollars down the toilet.

“There have been 50 additional tasks involving the clearing of blockages in civil infrastructure in February compared to last year – costing an additional $43,559,” Mr Platts said.

“Since December last year to February this year, there have been 168 sewer pipe blockages costing the ratepayer just under $158,000.

“Apart from the cost to ratepayers, there is the potential for environmental damage.

“Council is looking at opportunities to reduce operating costs and influence consumers and manufacturers’ behaviour. If we don’t change habits at the front end, we will see more blockages and higher cost to Council at the back end.

“Councils, the LGAQ, need to advocate for product manufacturers and packaging companies to play their part to both educate consumers, plus reduce and change the type of materials that can enter the waste stream.

“They can and should play their part to reduce environmental effects and costs to ratepayers.

“Let us all work together to mind our wastewater.”

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