2 July, 2021 16:24
A face mask that was discovered at Bundamba wastewater treatment plant.

Urban Utilities is urging residents not to flush disposable face masks down the loo after several have been found in the south-east Queensland wastewater network during lockdown.

Urban Utilities treatment plant manager Mandy Murchison said it was important everyone continued to follow health authorities’ advice to safely dispose of masks in the bin and not be tempted to flush them.

“While many people are disposing of their masks correctly there are some people out there who aren’t doing the right thing,” she said.

“We are already starting to see a few masks arrive at our treatment plants so we’re reminding people to only flush the Three Ps – pee, poo and paper.

“Masks that aren’t placed in the bin can also make their way into stormwater drains which can put our local waterways and wildlife at risk.”

Ms Murchison said Urban Utilities cleared around 3500 blockages from its pipe network every year.

“We already remove around 120 tonnes of wet wipes – the equivalent of 34 hippos – from our wastewater network each year so we don’t want to see masks contributing to blockages,” she said.

“Disposable masks are made from durable material that won’t break down like toilet paper after they’re flushed, so they could cause costly blockages in our network or your household plumbing.

“The elastic straps on masks could also get caught in our pumps so we’re asking everyone to please do the right thing and dispose of your masks in the bin to help us keep our wastewater network and waterways free from disposable masks.”

Urban Utilities treats around 130 Olympic swimming pools of wastewater from more than 1.5 million people every day.

Plant Manager Mandy Murchison at the inlet screens at the Bundamba Treatment Plant

About Urban Utilities
Established on July 1, 2010, Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, providing water and sewerage services to more than 1.5 million residents in South East Queensland. Our 14,384km2 geographic area is made up of the five local government areas of Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset.