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Yarra Valley Water welcomes new draft standard to fight fatbergs

Yarra Valley Water has welcomed the release of a draft national standard to define and label products that are safe to flush down the toilet.

The Standards Australia draft gives manufacturers clear specifications and labelling requirements and sets out methods to test whether products are compatible with the sewer system and environment.

It’s the first standard of its kind in the world to be developed by both manufacturers and water utilities working together.

Water Services Association of Australia Executive Director Adam Lovell said the urban water industry had been concerned for some time about the contribution of wet wipes products to pipe blockages.

“We know wipes and other items that shouldn’t be flushed are an issue for water utilities around the globe, disrupting services, creating extra costs and impacting the environment through overflows”, Mr Lovell said.

“The issue became even more serious during the COVID-19 pandemic, with our members reporting increases in blockages of between 20 and 60 per cent at the height of the pandemic last year, with people flushing materials never intended to go down the toilet like paper towel and wet wipes.”

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director Pat McCafferty said development of the new standard would help prevent costly fatbergs clogging the sewer system.

“Fatbergs cost nearly $1 million in an average year, largely due to the 650 tonnes of wet wipes and rags that customers flush down the toilet,” Mr McCafferty said.

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

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