SA Water’s Fleurieu Peninsula crew is removing large wads of wet wipes, sanitary pads and tampons on an almost weekly basis from one of the utility’s wastewater pump stations in Normanville, following the frequent flushing of these items by local customers.
Flushing anything other than the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – down the toilet causes blockages throughout SA Water’s sewer network, from the mains to the pump stations and sometimes at the wastewater treatment plants at the end of the system.
SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation Anna Jackson said the constant accumulation of wet wipes and other ‘unflushables’ at its Willis Drive pump station in Normanville has persisted over the past few months.
“Some of these hauls have weighed up to 300 kilograms, which our crew pull out of the pump using vacuum-like equipment or a crane truck if it’s too big to remove by hand, before it’s all taken to landfill,” Anna said.
“In the short-term, these constant blockages mean unnecessary extra work and expense. In the longer term, they can greatly reduce the ability of the wastewater pump to operate effectively, therefore requiring upgrades long before the infrastructure has reached the end of its useful life.
“Blockages can also occur in your internal plumbing, which more often than not results in everything in the pipe breaking out into the environment or unfortunately coming back up through your toilet or drain and into your yard or house.
“This is a cost and an inconvenience which can be avoided, so our advice to everyone, but especially those who live in the streets surrounding the Willis Drive wastewater pump station, is to only put paper, pee and poo down the loo.”
While ample supplies of toilet paper have again returned to supermarket shelves, SA Water crews saw a rise in toilet paper alternatives such as wet wipes, paper towel and tissues coming through the sewer network.
“We understand some people may have been unable to buy toilet paper and needed to use another household item to clean up, however, unlike toilet paper, which is deliberately designed to break down in around 30 seconds, these other items don’t disintegrate in the sewer system.
“If you must resort to using a toilet paper alternative, we recommend having a small bin in the toilet or bathroom for easy disposal.”
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