DUNMANWAY and Bantry have been chosen by Irish Water to be ‘think before you flush’ communities after it warned that too many people were still flushing ‘inappropriate’ items down the toilet.
The worst offending items which should never be flushed, but are causing huge problems for the utility, have been ‘named and shamed’.
They are wet wipes, cotton bud sticks, nappies, sanitary items (including tampons), and cotton wool pads. The West Cork towns, along with Cork city and nine other locations nationwide, have been chosen to be ‘Think Before You Flush’ projects, in a bid to address the growing problem.
The Clean Coasts initiative is joining with Irish Water to launch the third year of the campaign and deliver educational workshops in schools, promoting the campaign at festivals and community events, and working with businesses to help raise awareness and provide advice.
When the three Ps (pee, poo and paper) – the only allowable items – are flushed down the toilet, they travel along the sewer network to wastewater treatment plants. However, every day people flush thousands of other items, instead of binning them. Flushing these items can have a negative impact on internal plumbing in homes and businesses, the wastewater network and our marine environment.
Pat Britton of Irish Water said: ‘In Dunmanway there has been an increase in the number of pump failures and sewer blockages in the area. On investigation, it was found there was a large volume of non-biodegradable material being flushed into the public sewers. For example, wet wipes, baby wipes, sanitary products, and more. When blockages happen, the contents of our sewer network can end up in rivers and on beaches. This causes pollution that kills fish and other wildlife.’
He added: ‘Through education and awareness we can change people’s flushing behaviour so that together we can protect the environment and our wastewater infrastructure.’
Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts manager, added: ‘Sewage-related litter is one of the categories of waste we find on our beaches. However, its presence is preventable through some simple measures. Through this campaign we are working with Irish Water to change the nation’s flushing behaviour which will make a difference to our coastal environment.’
Last year there were over 4,600 blockages in Ireland’s sewer network.
For more see www.thinkbeforyouflush.org