Wastewater education

What to and what not to flush

Over the last two years there has been an increase in community awareness and subsequent response to the number of wastewater overflows that have been occurring within the Waikato district.

A number of these overflows have occurred in Raglan and have resulted in the harbour being closed to both swimming and seafood collection.

But wastewater overflows aren’t limited to Raglan. Overflows happen across the district and in August 2016, Council received a report outlining initial responses to the level of overflows from the wastewater network and supported a continual improvement programme (CIP) approach to managing the overflow issues.

A review was carried out between September and November 2016 to determine what else could be done over the medium and long term to provide a sustainable improvement, recommendations from that review included

  • employing more specialist water and wastewater staff,
  • the purchase of standby generators,  
  • improved wastewater operational knowledge and control across the district,
  • a proactive network jetting and condition assessment programme,
  • and a district wide public education programme.

Council has a goal of reducing overflows as much as practicably possible but acknowledges that it is not possible to completely rule them out and need the community’s help.

Wastewater overflows are caused by:

  • Blockages caused by foreign objectives within the network or at pumping stations either in wet or dry weather
  • Inadequate capacity within the network, relative to the flow being transported – this is normally an issue in wet weather
  • Failure of key equipment (e.g. pumping stations) or power at key installations (e.g. pumping stations)

The effects or consequences of wastewater overflows are that:

  • They result in the pollution of waterway (streams, rivers and harbour)
  • Give rise to public health issues, if next to people or where they swim,
  • They cause a loss of utility for sanitary services for customers

Whilst the Council interventions will unboubtably lead to positive results, the community’s support and action will improve these results and for that reason the districts communities are being asked to do that bit through a public education programme.

As part of this public education work, material will be distributed to all public toilets in the district and all households will receive information letting them know what should and shouldn’t be put down the loo and kitchen sink. Council will have a presence at public events such as market days where we will share the message. Accommodation providers, real estate agents and plumbers will have access to information to circulate to their customers.

The wastewater education programme will then look to be embedded in schools around the district.

What we know so far

We know that people are putting non-flushable items such as rags, wet wipes, nappies and undies down the loo and fats, oil and grease down the kitchen sink. This in turn blocks the wastewater system and is the main cause of wastewater overflows (81 per cent in 2014-16) in our district. The remainder of overflows are due to network issues.

So we’re undertaking, among other things, a district-wide public education programme to alert the district to this problem.

Blocking materials

We find all sorts of blocking materials in our wastewater network. Some examples include:

  • Baby wipes
  • Band aids
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Clothes
  • Condoms
  • Cotton buds
  • Cotton wool
  • Dental floss
  • Face masks
  • Facial wipes
  • Bottom wipes
  • Fat, oil, grease
  • Food
  • Fruit labels
  • Goldfish
  • Hair
  • Kitty litter
  • Nappies
  • Nappy liners
  • Rags
  • Sanitary pads
  • Socks
  • Tampon applicators
  • Tampons
  • Tissues
  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Wet wipes

News, useful resources, information and tips


Students take tour of Raglan’s water network

24 November 2017
One of Raglan's pump stations

A group of Raglan Area School students got a tour of their town’s wastewater and water network earlier this week.

Waikato District Councillor Lisa Thomson organised with Council staff for a group of Year 9 students to see a range of Council’s wastewater and water infrastructure.

Students saw the Wi Neera Street pump station, were taken on a tour of the wastewater treatment ponds and then stopped off at the Springs Water Treatment Plant to see where our tap water comes from.

“Getting an important message across about our infrastructure and the importance of being mindful of what we put down the loo is critical for this age. The students were very receptive to what staff showed them and I hope they now have a better understanding of what happens to our waste after it gets flushed down the loo,” Cr Thomson says.

While visiting the Wi Neera Street pump station Water Reticulation Serviceman Roger Smith told the students about non-flushable items like underwear, nappies and rags that often block the Raglan pumps.

The students couldn’t quite understand why people would flush undies – perfectly good ones at that.

After the visit it was quite clear the message of only pee, poo and paper down the loo resonated with the students.

“The hope is that the message continues to spread and the number of blockages decreases so don’t forget to do your bit,” Cr Thomson says.

ENDS

For more information please contact:
Teresa Hancock
Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
027 706 5776
communications@waidc.govt.nz