1 Jul 2015

Flushed wet wipes clog sewerage pipes

5:43 pm on 1 July 2015

Marlborough District Council is appealing to people not to flush wet wipes down the toilet, saying they are overloading Blenheim's sewerage system.

Water pipe in a sewage treatment plant

Urban Blenheim's sewerage system (not pictured) is experiencing two or three blockages a week, the Marlborough District Council says. Photo: 123RF

Marlborough District Council operations and maintenance engineer Stephen Rooney said council staff had to raise the underground pumps, and manually clear the pumps of the clumps of wet wipes and all the other debris which accumulated around them - that included the fatty food waste people poured down their sinks.

"They don't break down like toilet paper and when they bind together they block the pumps that keep the sewage moving through the pipes".

Wet wipes

Photo: 123rf

He said warm oils and fats set into ''fatbergs'' inside the sewer pipes, and wipes and congealed fat were a "pretty disastrous combination".

Mr Rooney said the wipes were causing two or three blockages a week in urban Blenheim but last weekend one pump had to be cleaned out twice and it had blocked again on Monday morning.

He said, while people seemed to understand that disposable nappies should not go down a toilet, they seemed to think the wet wipes were small enough not to matter.

"Unfortunately they are advertised as 'flushable' by the manufacturer and they do flush down the toilet - but that's when the problems start," he said.

Mr Rooney asked that people consider the staff who have to respond when an alarm alerted them to a blocked sewerage pump.

"It's not the nicest job so it would be good if people would wrap their rubbish and put it out in the council bag instead of running the risk of blocking toilets and drains - or the council sewerage system."