Wet wipes on the screens at Eagle Farm Sewerage Pump Station.
Wet wipes on the screens at Eagle Farm Sewerage Pump Station.

How toilet paper shortage is leading to blocked sewers

ONE OF the side effects of the recent toilet paper shortage has been an increase in people using wet wipes, paper towels and tissues as a replacement.

The use of products other than toilet paper has led to increased concern from Urban Utilities regarding blockages in the sewerage system.

The water authority has welcomed new signage put in place by Woolworths supermarkets to advise customers not to flush anything other than toilet paper down the loo.

The signage, produced by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), started going up in stores on Wednesday.

 

The new signs warn shoppers not to flush paper towels, wet wipes and tissues.
The new signs warn shoppers not to flush paper towels, wet wipes and tissues.

 

Urban Utilities spokeswoman Michelle Cull said there had been an influx of wet wipes, paper towels and tissues in the local sewerage network during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The signage will be placed on shelves near wet wipes, paper towels and tissues as a reminder for customers," she said.

"The problem with these items is they don't break down like toilet paper after they're flushed."

Ms Cull said flushing toilet paper alternatives could lead to costly blockages not only in the sewerage network but people's household plumbing.

"We remove around 120 tonnes of wet wipes from our network each year which is the equivalent of 34 hippopotamuses," she said.

"If you get a blockage in your household plumbing, it can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to clear."

WSAA Executive Director, Adam Lovell, said he was pleased Woolworths was getting behind the 3P's message.

"We're excited to see this messaging in Woolworths stores. With toilet paper and other products in high demand during COVID-19 it is important to remember that only the 3P's should be flushed down the toilet - Pee, Poo and toilet Paper!" he said.

The signs have been installed following a letter from WSAA to major supermarkets around Australia to help communicate to customers that only toilet paper can be flushed.


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