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Rag monsters are created from a mix of items – wet wipes, sheets, rags, underwear, diapers, tampons and sanitary pads – that are not meant to be flushed down your toilet.
- June 16, 2022
Rag monsters causing chaos in Kaipara
It may not be visible to those above ground, but underneath, in the bowels of Kaipara’s wastewater networks, rag monsters and fatbergs are blocking pipes and costing ratepayers' money.
“We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again. The only things going down your toilet should be the three Ps,” says Kaipara District Council Operations Manager Donnick Mugutso.
Spelling it out, Donnick says, “pee, poo and toilet paper down the loo is great. Anything else including rags, sheets, wet wipes, sanitary items, clothing, general waste is not. Those items do not belong in your toilet, and flushing them through the system does terrible and costly damage.”
Wastewater networks are designed to process biodegradable waste, not items like sheets, rags and underwear that don’t break down easily. Rag monsters seem to be on the up, says Donnick, with Council contractors having to dig up, repair and refit the wastewater grinder pumps each time a blockage occurs.
If rags manage to make it through the grinder pumps, they land in the wastewater treatment ponds, causing capacity issues as layers of rags build up over time on the bottom and compromise the treatment processes.
Rag monsters are created from a mix of items that are not meant to be flushed down your toilet. Wet wipes are a common occurrence, as are sheets, rags, underwear, diapers, tampons and sanitary pads, and general waste. Fatbergs, made up of cooking oils, food waste and other solids also cause blockages, and Donnick urges kitchen users to dispose of these in the compost bin or rubbish, rather than down the sink.
According to Water New Zealand, around $16 million each year is conservatively estimated to be spent on unblocking wastewater pipes across the country.
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