QUU's Michelle Cull and Stephen Tribe at Banks Creek pump station at Fernvale.
QUU's Michelle Cull and Stephen Tribe at Banks Creek pump station at Fernvale. QUU

The sewer problem stretching from here to Bali

IPSWICH families who flush foreign objects down the loo are costing authorities hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair costs.

Queensland Urban Utilities cleared 230 sewer blockages in the Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Somerset council areas, with a total repair bill of $385,000 last financial year.

The damage was caused by the community flushing things down the toilet other than the three Ps; pee, poop and paper.

QUU is reminding the community not to flush foreign objects down the loo to prevent blockages in household pipes and the sewer.

More than 150 tonnes of wet wipes are removed from the sewer network every year and laid end to end, the wet wipes would stretch from Brisbane to Bali.

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said common culprits were wet wipes, nappies, sanitary items and cotton buds.

"While it may be convenient to flush these items, they cause big problems for the sewer network, clogging pipes and wreaking havoc at pump stations and treatment plants," she said.

"It's an issue that we battle every day. We're clearing blockages at many pump stations at least once a week.

"We also have to screen this rubbish at our treatment plants and transport it to landfill."

Wet wipes, including so called 'flushable' wipes, are a particular problem because they don't disintegrate quickly like toilet paper.

"We remove around 160 tonnes of wet wipes from our sewerage network every year. Laid end-to-end, that's enough wipes to stretch all the way from Brisbane to Bali," Ms Cull said.

"We're asking people to dispose of all wipes, whether they're labelled 'flushable' or not, in the rubbish bin.

"Just because something can be flushed, does not mean it should be."

Somerset Regional Council spent an additional $20,000 fixing public toilets at Moore alone.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the situation was 'beyond a joke'.

"The council provides these public facilities to support visitors to the region and encourage people to stop in our rural communities and hopefully spend money in town," he said.

"Instead, the council is spending thousands on repairs, almost weekly, because users are mistreating the facilities.

"We are asking for the public's help in encouraging users to not flush anything other than the three Ps down the toilet, particularly as the toilet is in an un-sewered rural town."

 

Flushable wipe company ordered to pay

A 'FLUSHABLE' wet wipe company has been ordered to pay $700,000 for making false and misleading representations about their products.

The Federal Court of Australia this week ruled to take action against a 'flushable' wet wipe manufacturer Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd to pay penalties totalling $700,000 for making false and misleading representations about its White King 'flushable' toilet and bathroom cleaning wipes.

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said it was a real win for the health of sewers.

"Wet wipes, including those labelled 'flushable', don't disintegrate quickly like toilet paper and can lead to costly blockages in our network," she said.

"We remove around 160 tonnes of wipes from our sewerage network every year. Laid end-to-end, that's enough to stretch all the way from Brisbane to Bali.

"We spend around $1.5 million a year clearing blockages from our sewer pipes and wet wipes are a big contributing factor."

The court made its decision after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched proceedings in late 2016 following a complaint by consumer advocate group, Choice.

Ms Cull said 'flushable' labelling could be confusing, so the ruling would help make it clearer for shoppers.

"Flushing wipes down the toilet can cause blockages, not only in our network, but household pipes, leaving homeowners with expensive plumbing bills," Ms Cull said.

"Just because it can be flushed, doesn't mean it should be. Our message is simple - only flush The Three Ps - pee, poo and paper."



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