New figures released this week by SA Water reveal South Australians are continuing to clog the sewer network with wet wipes, with more than 2500 blockages recorded in the past year.
Major regional centres including Murray Bridge, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie and Whyalla were among the most offending towns, collectively seeing around 40 wet wipe-induced blockages.
SA Water’s Senior Manager of Production and Treatment Lisa Hannant hoped a public plea would help curb the unwanted behaviour and reduce unnecessary costs that come with it.
“South Australia, it’s time we had a chat … we see your pipes, and they’re full of wet wipes!” Ms Tennant said.
“Unlike toilet paper, which breaks down in around 30 seconds, wet wipes contain multiple layers of woven fibre and are designed not to disintegrate, making them a menace for our sewer network.
“Clumps of wet wipes and other unflushables such as tampons, tissues and condoms can build up in our sewerage pipes and block the flow, leading to overflows on the street or inside people’s homes.
“What’s been flushed can come back up, and nobody wants their laundry, bathroom or kitchen to be on the receiving end of that.
“Luckily, the solution is as simple as only ever flushing the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – and putting everything else in the bin.”
Over the past 12 months, SA Water spent more than $2m across its statewide sewerage network to redirect unflushables from pipes, pump stations and wastewater treatment plants to landfill.
Ms Hannant said the introduction of a new world-first standard defining what should not be flushed down the toilet will help consumers make the right choice.
“The Australian standard for flushables provides clear pass and fail criteria for manufacturers to be able to label their product as safe to flush and will help shoppers who want to make the right choice,” she said.
“Rinsing food scraps, fats and oils down kitchen sinks instead of putting them in the bin is also problematic, with congealed kitchen waste binding wipes and other solids together to form fatbergs.
“Our sewers do a great job protecting public health, so we need to respect our toilets and drains, instead of treating them like rubbish bins.”