Paper panic hits sewers
Peoples’ lack of toilet paper is creating havoc as flushed items block sewer pipes.
Desperate consumers are resorting to paper towel, newspaper and even old clothes as supermarket aisles remain empty, stripped bare by panic-buying.
Flushing things other than toilet paper clogs pipes and creates ‘fatbergs’ — huge chunks of thick paper and fabric bond with oil or fat in the sewers.
SA Water's Anna Jackson says there is a concerning amount of “advice” being posted on social media about what people can use instead of toilet paper.
“Paper towels, wet wipes, baby wipes, even tissues, are designed not to break down, are tough and strong, and therefore get caught in our sewer network and create blockages,” she told the ABC.
“The unfortunate side effect of a blockage in a sewer network is that everything that was meant to go down the pipe comes back up.
“We don't want people to be dealing with things on their bathroom floor.”
Rhett Duncan from Queensland's Unitywater says a range of materials have started blocking the pipes.
“We've heard people are using all sorts of things in these desperate times — old clothes is one of those, newspapers, and wet wipes and paper towel,” he said.
Brisbane's Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull says a “poonami” of wet wipes is hitting treatment plants and pump stations.
“One of the most shocking sights, is the huge volume of wipes we're removing from the screens at our pump stations every day,” she told the ABC.