The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) (the peak body for water utilities in Australia) is disappointed with the ruling by the Federal Court today.

Images supplied by Sydney Water, SA Water, Queensland Urban Utilities and Yarra Valley Water.

Mr Adam Lovell, Executive Director, WSAA said “Wipes and other products are increasingly contributing to sewage blockages. These blockages are sometimes called ‘fatbergs’ and can disrupt customer services, create extra costs for water utilities and customers, and impact the environment through sewage overflows.”

“The decision highlights the urgent need to develop an appropriate standard for Australia”, said Mr Lovell.

“WSAA continues to call for clearer labelling for consumers and is leading the development of an Australian Standard for Flushable Products. The Standard will soon be released for public consultation and we expect it to be finalised by the end of 2019”, said Mr Lovell.

The Standard will include pass/fail criteria and is being developed by manufacturers, water utilities, peak bodies and consumer groups. It will provide manufacturers with clear specifications to design products that are compatible with the sewerage network in Australia.

“It’s not just an issue here in Australia but internationally.  UK water utilities say it costs £100 million annually to clear blockages contributed to mainly by wet wipes. Utilities in the US report similar experiences. Here in Australia and New Zealand the issue is costing the urban water industry millions of dollars each year”, said Mr Lovell.

Lovell added “Until the Standard is finalised we advise consumers to only flush the 3Ps – Pee, Poo and toilet Paper!”

While dismissing the case against Kimberly-Clark Justice Gleeson’s also concluded that: “There was ample evidence that “wipe” products generally are a significant management problem for municipal sewerage systems, impairing the function of infrastructure and increasing maintenance costs.”

The Federal Court decision today follows court proceedings by the ACCC after its investigation into marketing and labelling of wet wipes products labelled ‘flushable’. The proceedings followed a complaint made to the ACCC by the consumer advocate group, Choice.

WSAA is the peak body representing the urban water industry in Australia. Its members provide water and wastewater services to over 20 million customers in Australia and New Zealand, including many of Australia’s largest industrial and commercial enterprises.

Images from around Australia available for media use on Google docs (please attribute to relevant utility)

Adam Lovell, WSAA, Sarah Agar, CHOICE and Peter Hadfield, Sydney Water after the Federal Court decision.

28 Jun 2019

Sandi Kolbe

Sandi Kolbe

Communications Manager