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Massive Melbourne fatberg is a reminder to keep wet wipes out of the pipes

Yarra Valley Water is calling on Melburnians to be mindful of what they flush down the toilet after a 42-tonne fatberg was discovered. This follows a surge in wet wipes, rags, tissues, paper towels and sanitary products being flushed in recent weeks.

The fatberg weighed two tonnes more than the average petrol tanker and took workers nine hours to dislodge and remove from the sewer.

The number of wet wipes, rags and other non-flushable products getting stuck in the sewer system is up by 20 to 30 per cent across Yarra Valley Water’s service area in Melbourne’s eastern and northern suburbs.

Wet wipes don’t disintegrate once flushed and often rope together causing blockages. Fatbergs are created when wet wipes congeal together with fats and oils poured down the drain, causing huge blockages and damage to sewer pipes.

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Pat McCafferty said that wet wipes and anything other than toilet paper should not be flushed.

“People often buy wet wipes in good faith thinking that they are flushable as advertised. In fact, they don’t break down in the sewer system and can create expensive plumbing problems for customers sometimes up to $1000.

“If things keep going as they are, over the next six months we’re looking at increased maintenance costs of up to $1.6 million for repairing the damage caused by sewer blockages and fatbergs,” Mr McCafferty said.

Wet wipes, tissues, sanitary products and rags should be placed in the bin after use and securely and hygienically tied up and disposed of.

Fatbergs cost Yarra Valley Water nearly $1 million in an average year, largely due to the 650 tonnes of wet wipes and rags that customers flush down the toilet.

During any ordinary week, Yarra Valley Water will retrieve almost 14 tonnes of wet wipes and rags from the sewer system. 

Yarra Valley Water has run several public education campaigns encouraging customers to only flush ‘the three Ps’ down the toilet – poo, pee and toilet paper.

For more information on wet wipes visit www.yvw.com.au