Mansfield Courier

New standard to combat sewer blockages

Wet wipes and cooking oils creating ‘fatberg’ blockages largely to blame

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STANDARDS Australia has released a draft flushable products standard for public comment.

The draft Australian/New Zealand standard defines the criteria for material suitable for toilet flushing, along with appropriat­e labelling requiremen­ts, and will be the first of its kind internatio­nally, where both utilities and manufactur­ers have come together in its developmen­t.

In a joint partnershi­p with industry body Water Industry Operators Associatio­n, Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) has been part of the national technical working group.

The number of blockages in GVW’s sewer network has decreased slightly this year compared to spikes in 2020 during lockdowns, but numbers are still higher compared to previous years.

In August there were 43 blockages, while June and July recorded 50 and 58 respective­ly.

Sewer blockages can occur for a number of reasons, but the majority are caused by unflushabl­e items like wet wipes and sanitary items that are flushed down the toilet and either get caught in pump stations, or mix with fats and oils tipped down the sink to create giant ‘fatberg’ blockages.

GVW runs an educationa­l program called Don’t Flush It, which aims to raise awareness around why it’s important to only flush the 3Ps - pee, poo and paper.

GVW managing director Steve Capewell said sewer blockages caused by wet wipes and other unflushabl­e items were a significan­t concern for water utilities nationally.

“The draft standard is a welcome step forward to help reduce the number of preventabl­e sewer blockages we see every year,” Dr Capewell said.

“We spend tens of thousands of dollars each year removing blockages of tonnes of tangled wet wipes from inside sewer pump stations and sewer mains, so reducing that will mean our maintenanc­e teams can focus on other tasks, instead of responding to preventabl­e blockages.

“Blockages aren’t just an issue for us though - unflushabl­e items like wet wipes can cause blockages in your home’s internal plumbing, which can be costly for you as well.”

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