Who put a T-Shirt down the loo? 269 blockages in council’s system

CLOGGED: A pump found to be blocked with a t-shirt in Selwyn.

What do cigarette butts, syringes, wet wipes and condoms have in common?

They are all blocking your toilet.

The Selwyn District Council spent about $50,000 last year, unclogging 269 blockages at sewer pump stations.

And there are some weird things found by the district council blocking drains – that’s a T-Shirt blocking a drain in the photo.

A district council spokesman said there have been 234 blockages so far this year and more than half of the blockages have been caused by wet wipes.

He said the most blockages in the past couple of years have occurred in Leeston and Prebbleton.

The district council is advising residents to limit what they flush down the toilet to the three ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

District council assets manager Murray Washington says in spite of its name and description flushable wet wipes don’t break down in the system and cause frequent blockages.

“While we understand wet wipes have become popular we want the public to throw them out instead of flushing them.

“Flushing the wipes causes a lot of damage to our systems, as they are not biodegradable.”

Other items which have been found in sewer systems in the district include latex products such as gloves and condoms, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, napkins, tissues, nursing pads, cloth, clothing and rags, fats, grease and oil, sticky plasters, dressings, cotton balls, cotton buds, dental floss, hair, plastic wrappers, cigarette butts and syringes.

These items don’t break down or dissolve in water and can cause major blockages in pumps and within the sewer network itself.

Mr Washington said most sewer pipes are only 10–20 cm in diameter and aren’t designed to carry the range of products which have been found clogging the systems.