Wipes stop pipes

Wipes are responsible for causing sewer choke and cause big problems in pipes – don’t flush them down the toilet.


MidCoast Council is urging residents to stop flushing so-called ‘flushable’ wipes down the toilet as blockages seriously affect the sewage system.

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It’s a confronting photo – but this is the result of using so-called ‘flushable’ wipes as part of your toilet routine.

“Despite these wipes being advertised as ‘flushable’, there are no wipes that are suitable for flushing down the toilet,” said Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Mr Rob Scott.

“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.”

Council staff have to hoist the pump out of the ground from depths of up to 10 metres, and then remove the ‘choke’ manually. Apart from being a disgusting 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.”

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 pretty much 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 advice is to throw away any cleaning/disinfecting wipes, moist towelettes, personal hygiene products, baby wipes and any other type of wipe you may use in the garbage, never in your toilet.

Clogged sewer lines are ugly and expensive to fix. Binning disposable wipes is an easy way to protect our sewer system, our environment and prevent unnecessary trouble.

Be aware that by binning the products, you are contributing to landfill waste – and that also is not good for our environment – and contributes to the NSW Government’s Waste Levy that ratepayers pay on all landfill waste.

“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,” said Mr Scott.

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