Wet wipes being flushed down toilets and ending up in wastewater systems has become more of an issue as people endeavour to keep surfaces in their home clean and safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
President of Local Government New Zealand, Dave Cull, says councils throughout the country are struggling to cope with the impact of wet wipes.
"We're hearing from many Councils throughout New Zealand about the increased blockages in their wastewater systems due to wet wipes," said Dave.
"We all have to do our bit to make sure Councils can focus on providing essential services to their communities, rather than clearing unnecessary blockages which could have been otherwise been avoided."
However, Waipā District Council water services manager Martin Mould says disposing of wet wipes in the local wastewater system has been an issue for a while.
During the lockdown Martin says Council has not seen an increase in issues with wet wipes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"But we have continued with our preventative maintenance programme during the lockdown to minimise the risk of blockages," says Martin.
"We would urge all residents not to flush anything except the three Ps (paper, pee and poo) down the toilet."
Countdown supermarkets have also come on board to spread a similar message and are rolling out signage across their stores reminding customers not to flush wet wipes.
General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability for Countdown, Kiri Hannifin, says while wet wipes can useful, customers must dispose of them properly to avoid blocking and damaging wastewater pipes and customers own pipes at home.
"We appreciate that customers are particularly keen to keep surfaces in their homes clean and safe at the moment, but we just want to make sure people are putting them in the bin rather than in the toilet when they have been used," says Kiri.
"Our message is simple: please don't flush wipes."
The new signage has been especially welcomed by Local Government New Zealand and Water New Zealand whose technical manager, Noel Roberts, says there has seen large increases over recent years in the number of dry weather sewage overflows caused by blockages caused by non-flushables.
"This is not only a risk to the environment, but also a costly headache for wastewater operators," says Noel.