Think before you flush

By David Rak

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Environment Protection Authority Victoria is urging Victorians to think before they flush.

The EPA is concerned that the use of products such as wet wipes, tissues or paper towels as alternatives for toilet paper could put pressure on the state’s sewers and domestic wastewater systems.

People should only flush the three Ps down the toilet – pee, poo and toilet paper. If Victorians don't have toilet paper to use, the alternatives should be disposed of in the main household waste bin.

Sewers are not designed to handle wet wipes, tissues and paper towels. They clump together forming slimy thick mounds commonly called ‘fatbergs’ which cause blockages or damage to infrastructure. This leads to sewer spills that impact on the environment and can create a public health issue.

EPA's deputy chief environmental scientist Dan Evans said while wet wipes might be marked as ‘flushable’ that did not guarantee they were biodegrade and would not cause pollution to the environment.

“Sewer spills of wet wipes, litter, paper towels and tissues can get caught up in vegetation in drains and cause water quality issues,” Dr Evans said.

“An increase in water pollution can be potentially harmful to animals, birds, fish and other aquatic life, as well as causing odour.”

Members of the public can report all types of pollution by calling the EPA's 24-hour hotline, on 1300 372 842.