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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:44am

Selwyn District Council is reminding residents to limit what they flush down the toilet to the three Ps.

Only three things should disappear after the button is pressed - pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

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

Selwyn District Council pump clogged by t-shirtA major issue has been the use of products often described as ‘flushable’ wet wipes.

Assets Manager Murray Washington says 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, as they are not biodegradable.”

A wide range of products regularly cause headaches for the team at Selwyn District Council, 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
  • fats, grease and oil
  • sticky plasters, dressings, cotton balls, cotton buds or dental floss
  • hair, plastic wrappers, cigarette butts or 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 says last year the Council spent around $50,000 to clean out sewer pump stations that became clogged. He says most sewer pipes are only 10–20 centimetres in diameter and aren’t designed to carry the range of products we have found clogging our systems.

Over half of the blockages found in the Selwyn system are caused by wet wipes.

Pictured above: Selwyn District Council pump clogged by t-shirt