Careful what you flush

by Kent Caddick

Selwyn District Council is reminding residents to be careful about what they flush down the toilet.

Last year the council spent around $50,000 to clean out sewer pump stations, which had become clogged by items the system was unable to handle.

Council’s assets manager, Murray Washington, said residents should limit what they flush to the three Ps.

“Only three things should disappear after the button is pressed — pee, poo and (toilet) paper,” Mr Washington said.

“Flushing items other than the three Ps costs a substantial amount each year, in unclogging blockages and repairs.”

He said a major issue had been the use of products often described as ‘flushable’ wet wipes, with more than half of the blockages found in the Selwyn system being caused by the wipes.

“Despite the product name and description, these products don’t break down in the system and cause frequent blockages.

“While we understand wet wipes have become popular, we want the public to throw them out instead of flushing them. Flushing the wipes causes a lot of damage to our systems.”

He said a wide range of products regularly causes headaches for the council team after finding the remains in sewer systems.

They’ve included: latex products like gloves and condoms, wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, napkins, tissues, nursing pads, cloth, clothing and rags, as well as fats, grease and oil, sticky plasters, dressings, cotton balls, cotton buds or dental floss, hair, plastic wrappers, cigarette butts and syringes.

“These items don’t break down or dissolve in water and can cause major blockages in pumps and within the sewer network itself,” Mr Washington said.