The spate of toilet paper hoarding has led to a ‘poonami’ of blocked sewage systems thanks to a reliance on a mislabelled bathroom staple.
The spate of toilet paper hoarding has led to a ‘poonami’ of blocked sewage systems thanks to a reliance on a mislabelled bathroom staple.

'POONAMI': Toilet paper hoarding sparks sewerage chaos

THE recent coronavirus-sparked spate of toilet paper hoarding has led to a 'poonami' of blocked sewage systems thanks to a reliance on a mislabelled bathroom staple - the flushable wipe.

Mooroobool plumber Tony De Rose this week came face to face with a particularly disgusting example of flushable wipe syndrome when he was called to a Cairns unit complex.

"In my 30 years as a plumber, this has taken the cake," Mr De Rose said.

"I kid you not, we got there at 11.30am and did not get out till 5pm, just to clean the drain."

'Flushable' wipes retrieved from a unit complex in Cairns by De Rose Pumbing
'Flushable' wipes retrieved from a unit complex in Cairns by De Rose Pumbing

Using a high pressure jet at 45000 Psi, the plumber managed to retrieve a tangled mess of wipes in what had earlier that day been an overflowing bio hazard zone.

"The amount of wipes we pulled out was hideous," Mr De Rose said.

"It was a sight to see."

'Flushable' wipes have long been the bane of local councils as they gained popularity as a toilet paper supplement.

Last year Cairns Regional Council even resorted to the extreme measure of a rap campaign starring 'DJ Phatberg' to educate residents of the growing problem.

DJ Phatberg ( Councillor Brett Olds) launches the campaign to reduce rubbish in the sewage system . PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
DJ Phatberg ( Councillor Brett Olds) launches the campaign to reduce rubbish in the sewage system . PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

The recent shortage of paper rolls has seen a spike in sewerage blockages in Cairns.
"It has gotten worse in the last month," Mr De Rose said.

"We have had four or five similar jobs."

He said most residents had been caught out by the name of the offending bathroom product.

"They are labelled flushable, but that's really just false advertising," Mr De Rose said.

"They don't break down; toilet paper is designed to break into small pieces and disperse in the water."

For those not on mains sewerage, systems such as biocycles are also vulnerable to the tough wipes.

"They shouldn't be put through a biocycle or a septic," Mr De Rose said.

"When wipes go down they get jammed into the pump system and just clog it up."

The unwary could find their yards awash with a foul flood or worse, experience the horrors of a backed up floor drain.

"Hygiene is our main concern," Mr De Rose said.

We have to attend to these incidents quickly or there will be sewerage running everywhere."



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