Council calls for Hastings residents to only flush poo, pee and toilet paper

Flushed: One of 15 major blockages a month just like this one are cleaned out of sewerage pipes as a result of "flushable" wipes entering the network. Photo: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
Flushed: One of 15 major blockages a month just like this one are cleaned out of sewerage pipes as a result of "flushable" wipes entering the network. Photo: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

This story really stinks. And not for the reason you might think.

It seems Hastings residents are not getting the message about what should be flushed down the loo.

And that message it quite simple – the three Ps – poo, pee and toilet paper.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council group manager Duncan Clarke said “flushable” wipes are causing significant blockages in the region’s sewerage network.

“Items like wet wipes, even when advertised as flushable, do not break down and tend to clump together causing blockages to pumps and pipes within the council sewerage system,” Mr Clarke said.

“They can also cause expensive blockages in homes. These wipes should be disposed of in waste bins. Other items which commonly cause issues are cotton-buds, towels, incontinence pads and nappies.”

Wet wipes are the most common cause of blockages. They come in many forms including as baby wipes, make up wipes or cleaning wipes.

Council is currently extracting 15 major blockages every month attributable to “flushable” wet wipes.

These costs can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a minor blockage to tens of thousands of dollars for major blockages and repairs.

Group manager Duncan Clarke

“The main damage to the sewerage system is blockages in pumps and pipes,” Mr Clarke said.

“These can usually be cleared but sometimes the blockage can crack pipes and can also break pump parts.

“These blockages can cause overflows of sewage into houses, backyards and the natural environment.  

“Clearing blockages and cleaning up spills comes at a considerable cost to council. This includes worker costs, new pump parts and material costs as well as potentially needing externally supplied equipment such as vacuum trucks to clean up spills and pump out the sewerage wells.

“These costs can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a minor blockage to tens of thousands of dollars for major blockages and repairs.”

And that’s not all that has been found floating around the sewerage system.

Children’s toys, coins, jewellery, oyster shells and fish frames have all been found, with larger items such as car parts entering via gully traps and sewer manholes. 

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