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What the heck is this stuff and how did it get in the drain?

What the heck is this stuff and how did it get in the drain? Wet wipes may say they’re flushable but they’re not. Photo: Sydney Water
Nanjing Night Net

Sydney Water workers at the Shellharbour sewage pumping station cleaning out a blockage of wet wipes.

Sydney Water workers at the Shellharbour sewage pumping station cleaning out a blockage of wet wipes. A spokesman said such clean-outs happen on a regular basis.

Sydney Water workers at the Shellharbour sewage pumping station cleaning out a blockage of wet wipes.

Part of the one-tonne wet wipes cluster removed from sewer pipes at the pumping station in Eleebana. Photo: Hunter Water

TweetFacebookEnormous clusters of wet wipes create “fatbergs” that clog up sewer pipes, which is what exactly what happened two years agowhen a one-tonne cluster blew out a pumping station near LakeMacquarie

Three-quarters of thecluster of sewage and wet wipes was removed with specialised equipment from the station at Eleebana, Fairfax Media reported in April, 2016.

But the rest, 300 kilograms, was removed by hand, one bucket at a time, according to Hunter Water Corporation spokesman Nick Kaiser.

“Wet wipes are responsible for around 80 per cent of all sewer blockages in Hunter Water’s system,” Mr Kaiser told Fairfax Media at the time.

“These can cost thousands of dollars to repair and if they occur in people’s private plumbing that cost is worn by the customer.”

On Friday, it was reported thata brand producing a type of bathroom wipesthat cause roughly80 per cent of Hunter pipe blockages hadbeen ordered to pay $700,000 in the federal court.

“Fatbergs” area problem worldwide with wet wipes advertised as flushable taking years to break down and sometimes mixing with fats and oils to form “fatbergs”.

“Only human waste and toilet paper should ever be flushed down the toilet,” Mr Kaiser said.

A survey of consumers in the Illawarra region at the timefound one in four Illawarra residents flushed wet wipes down the toilet, which can clog up pipes and block toilets. One resident said he had been hit with a $16,000 plumbing bill.

The Water Services Association of Australia estimated wet wipes are costing water utilities $15 million per year.

Each year, Sydney Water removes 500 tonnes of wipes from the network across the Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Sydney every year at a cost of $8 million per year.

“Many customers have told us that based on the flushablelabelling of wipes they thought it was OK to flush, only to be hit with expensive plumbing bills,” Sydney Water’s service delivery general manager Eric de Rooy said in April, 2016.

Sydney Water recommended ignoring the “flushable” claim on the packaging.

“Our message to customers is simple,” Mr de Rooy said.

“Keep wipes out of pipes – bin it, don’t flush it.”

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