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MidCoast Council in New South Wales is urging local residents to stop flushing wipes down the toilet as constant blockages are seriously affecting the sewerage system.

The above photo shows the result of using so-called ‘flushable’ wipes as part of a toilet routine.

The Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott, said that despite these types of wipes being advertised as ‘flushable’, there are actually no wipes that are suitable for flushing down the toilet.

“This image shows a blockage of one of our sewer pumps, because of wipes being flushed down the toilet. A blockage can effectively shut down the movement of sewage through the system and is a serious problem,” Mr Scott said.

Council staff have to hoist the pump out of the ground from depths of up to ten metres, and then remove the ‘choke’ manually. Apart from being a distasteful job, it’s expensive and time consuming.

“Normal maintenance includes our staff checking sewer pumps about once a fortnight – there’s normally just a hose-off of domestic fat residue required. But recently, we’ve been deploying staff every second day to some pump locations to remove blockages due to people flushing wipes, sanitary items and sometimes nappies down the toilet,” Mr Scott said.

Recently several pipe blockages have occurred at Wingham, Tallwoods and Tuncurry, with wipes being the major problem.

Unlike toilet paper, wipes do not disintegrate in water. They stay almost intact as they travel through the sewer pipes and can get caught on other debris. This increases the likelihood of a blockage in the sewer pipes which can cause costly damage to pumps or lead to sewer overflows – which have the potential to impact on the environment.

The best way to dispose of these types of items safely is to throw away any cleaning/disinfecting wipes, moist towelettes, personal hygiene products and baby wipes in the garbage, never in the toilet.

Binning disposable wipes is an easy way to protect the sewer system, environment and prevent unnecessary trouble.

“It’s really a case of old fashioned toilet habits are best – avoid new flushable wipe products if you can. And if you must use them – they go in the garbage, not the toilet,” Mr Scott said.

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