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Covid-19 panic causing blockages in Auckland’s sewage system

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Panic buying during Covid-19 is leading to big problems in Auckland’s wastewater systems.

News channels revealed that flushing down wet wipes down the toilet is causing pumping stations to break down weekly when normally they have problems only once or twice a year.

Watercare staff have said that the these problems are unprecedented and came as people became more concerned about avoiding coronavirus.

“People are scared of Covid-19 so they’re cleaning a lot more and instead of chucking it in the rubbish, they want to get rid of the virus, so they chuck it down the toilet – out of sight out of mind,” waste plant technician Alain Sayers told 1 NEWS.

“So once you get this they will block our pump stations. If they block our pump stations our pump stations overflow and we design our pump stations so that it will go into streams and rivers,” Watercare environmental care manager Nathaniel Wilson told 1 NEWS.

“They’ve been overflowing more than once a week,” he said.

Sanitizing wipes often say they can be flushed, but Watercare staff said this was bad advice and they should never go down the toilet.

Meanwhile, a top health official says there are better things to clean with.

“Just use general cleansers. Wet wipes are probably not quite so effective,” Health Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

Sanitizing wipes should not be flushed and here’s why

These wiped are made of stringy material that does not break down. The wipes connect with each other in the drain and make a large collection that cannot be pumped. The more people that do this, the more maintenance it requires.

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