Don’t flush wipes, council pleads

Antibacterial wipes do not belong in our pipes.

It is a simple message the Queenstown Lakes District Council is trying to get through to its community after two blocked pipes in Queenstown yesterday, both caused by a combination of wet wipes and rags.

The council’s chief engineer, Ulrich Glasner, said one of the blockages to the network was at Industrial Pl, the other on Memorial St, behind Outdoor Sports.

Last week the council’s property and infrastructure general manager Peter Hansby said antibacterial wipes were in hot demand and while many products said they could be flushed, ‘‘that is simply not the case’’.

Mr Glasner is part of the Water Service Managers Group, which represents about two-thirds of the councils in New Zealand.

The issue was widespread throughout the country and the group was keen to contact Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to push the message nationally: ‘‘don’t flush wipes’’.

The council also intended to put advisory notes on supermarket shelves beside the products, he said.

Along with the problems they could cause in the wastewater network, like overflows, during the four-week lockdown it was even more important council contractors were not having to respond to those sorts of issues.

‘‘Bringing the people out who have to fix it, getting a contractor in wastewater and all of those kinds of health issues for the people who are working and handling the [problem] is really unnecessary.’’

The best approach was to dispose of wipes, and rags, in rubbish bins. In the bathroom, ‘‘anything that isn’t one of the three Ps, that’s poo, pee, or paper’’, should not go down the toilet.

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