Fats and oils clog drains

Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Water Corporation senior operator Darryl Snow spends up to three hours a day removing unwanted household rubbish from the Webberton wastewater treatment plant so the aerators and pumps can work properly to purify the water. However fats and oils poured down household drains cause bigger problems.
Camera IconWater Corporation senior operator Darryl Snow spends up to three hours a day removing unwanted household rubbish from the Webberton wastewater treatment plant so the aerators and pumps can work properly to purify the water. However fats and oils poured down household drains cause bigger problems. Credit: Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

Socks, sheets, shirts, underpants, toilet brushes and accessories, toys, tennis balls, plastic bottles, sprinkler heads, hose connections, elastic straps, hair and tins of dog food all turn up at Water Corporation’s treatment plant at Webberton.

Operators spend hours each day fishing these items from the ponds so the pumps and aerators can work properly.

The worst time is school holidays when children are known to throw such things down the inspection shaft at home, but the Water Corporation says the bigger problem is fats and oils.

Oils kill the bacteria that help wastewater treatment ponds work correctly, and fats clog the system.

Water Corporation spokeswoman Clare Lugar said many people did not realise fat turned solid when it cooled down and could cause serious pipe blockages in home plumbing or the public wastewater system.

“Blockages can lead to wastewater backing up in our system and possibly overflowing into your house, street, or nearby park,” she said.

Every day, Water Corporation safely collects more than 400 million litres of wastewater from households, commercial businesses and industry through more than 17,000km of wastewater mains across WA.

“We can’t always see the ‘fat-bergs’ and blockages in our system — that is until an overflow occurs,” Ms Lugar said.

“Responding, repairing and cleaning up overflows caused by fat blockages is expensive and time consuming for our crews, and distressing for property owners.”

Ms Lugar said the solution was simple: trap the fat in a sealed container and bin it, don’t pour it down the sink.

The extra effort will also mean the only jolly man to visit your house this festive season will be in a red suit bearing gifts, and not a plumber you’ve had to call out.

More information on what not to flush is available from watercorporation.com.au/flush or by phoning 131 385.

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