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What the flush? Hidden monster lurking in the sewage pipes

STOP! Before you flush that wet wipe think about the 1035 tonnes of them that clogged up the Sunshine Coast sewage system in the past year.
STOP! Before you flush that wet wipe think about the 1035 tonnes of them that clogged up the Sunshine Coast sewage system in the past year.

THERE is a hidden monster in the sewage system on the Sunshine Coast that, if left unchecked, could launch an assault on our eyes and noses.

We're talking about wet wipes.

They cost just a couple of dollars to buy from the supermarket, but could cost tens of millions once people flush them down the toilet.

Wet wipes have been touted as the latest thing for that squeaky clean feeling once your business is done, but when users toss them into the toilet, they become the main culprits for producing fatbergs.

A fatberg is the name given to a congealed lump of fat, sanitary items, wet wipes clogging up our sewage system.

A rather offensive fatberg the size of a double-decker bus took 10 days to be removed from the sewage system in London a few years ago and the Sunshine Coast system is not immune.

Unitywater removed 1035 tonnes of wet wipes in 2015/16.

A fatberg found lurking in Sydney's sewers source: Sydney Water
A fatberg found lurking in Sydney's sewers source: Sydney Water

Water Services Association of Australia executive director Adam Lovell said authorities around the country were struggling to cope.

"Fatbergs are horrible - they're basically absolutely huge, tonnes in weigh ... and what happens is of course these fatbergs contain quite a lot of these wipes that make them even bigger," he said.

"You've got to rip roads, you've got to rip out footpaths and parks to get these things out. They're certainly not the most pleasant thing to look at and not the most pleasant thing to smell either."

A fatberg found in the sewerage pipes in Sydney source: Sydney Water
A fatberg found in the sewerage pipes in Sydney source: Sydney Water
 

WHAT THE FLUSH? Unusual items found at Unitywater sewage treatment plants

  1. Jewellery
  2. False teeth
  3. Hats
  4. Syringes
  5. Cotton buds
  6. Toys

Topics:  editors picks sewerage sunshine coast toilets wet wipes


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