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Buncrana: Think Before You Flush 24.08.22

FLUSHING unsuitable items like wipes down the toilet can have huge implications for our wastewater systems and damage our local environment. As part of the Think Before You Flush campaign in Buncrana; B&Bs, hotels, gyms, cafés, restaurants and many other businesses have received information and resources in an effort to raise awareness locally.

Think Before You Flush addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in our wastewater network, surface water overflows and sewage related litter impacting rivers, beaches and oceans.
Many toiletries, such as wipes, cotton pads and dental floss are part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, which are the top 12 items that are incorrectly flushed down the toilet in Ireland. Other items include hair, paper towels, medicine, tampons, food items, contact lenses, condoms, cigarette butts and cotton bud sticks.

There is no denying these items are incredibly useful. Many people love the convenience of disposable wipes and cotton pads but are unaware of the problems associated with these items when inappropriately flushed down the toilet. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, other items don’t break down easily.

Furthermore, when fats, oils and greases (FOGs) from cooking are poured down the kitchen sink, they cool and harden as they travel along the wastewater network. When FOGs combine with wipes and other sewage related litter such as hair and dental floss that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, fatbergs can form. Irish Water clears hundreds of blockages including fatbergs from the wastewater network every week.
Think Before You Flush: Image on the left shows an 8ft blockage at a pump station.
This Summer, the Think Before You Flush campaign has rolled out an education and awareness campaign in Buncrana to highlight the need for locals and visitors to maintain proper flushing and pouring behaviour in the area. Nationally in 2021, Irish Water responded to approximately 10,000 customer notified blockages (approximately 200 every week) and removed 162 tonnes of wipes and other items from the screens at wastewater treatment plants every month – that’s close to 2,000 tonnes per year.

Speaking about the campaign Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, Clean Coasts, said: “We're delighted to engage with businesses in Buncrana to remind people to ‘Think Before You Flush’. The aim of the campaign is to create positive behavioural change and raise awareness about the impact sewage related litter has on our environment and wastewater network. We hope the business and community in Buncrana will join us in raising awareness by displaying these resources and help spread this important message."

As part of the campaign in Buncrana, the Think Before You Flush campaign are offering a range information resources including posters, information leaflets, and infographics that can be displayed in homes, businesses, clubs or community spaces.
For more information visit Thinkbeforeyouflush.org .
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