The ACT's water providers are in a stink.
Wet wipes are being flushed down Canberra toilets at a rate which has earned the capital the unhonourable title of one of Australia's worst cities when it comes to sewer blockages, Icon Water report.
The abundance of trees lining the streets of the bush capital means roots creep into sewerage pipes in search of water.
Wet wipes flushed down Canberra toilets get caught in the tree roots, congealing with fat poured down kitchen drains and creating fatburgs in the sewerage pipes.
From 2019 to 2020, Icon Water spent over $1.7 million clearing blockages from Canberra pipes.
Managing Director Ray Hezkial said they hoped to reduce the wet wipes featured in future flushes.
"We often don't consider what's happening below ground until we have to face the gross consequences above the ground, like a sewage overflow," Mr Hezkial said.
"A lot of people don't realise this but wet wipes are more like cloth than toilet paper. Unlike toilet paper, they are not built to break down.
"We want people to think carefully about what they're flushing down the toilet."
Clearing a blockage involves sending Icon Water's team of Blockage Busters underground to manually tear apart the huge clumps of rubbish.
Not only is this stinky job unpleasant for staff, it is also costly to the community.
The message is simple: help us free the poo so it flows to our treatment plant instead of being blocked up, or worse, flowing back to youRay Hezkial, Icon Water
Mr Hezkial said only the three Ps should be flushed down the toilet - pee, poo and [toilet] paper.
In its efforts to educate Canberrans, Icon Water has launched a campaign with the important public message: free the poo.
"The message is simple: help us free the poo so it flows to our treatment plant instead of being blocked up, or worse, flowing back to you," Mr Hezkial said.
As your water and wastewater services provider, we care about what's happening below the ground, Mr Hezkial said.
Mr Hezkial said sanitation and hygiene were an essential but understated part of the city.
"Our community is only as healthy as the pipes that carry our waste away," he said.
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