Icon Water asks Canberra to ‘Free the Poo’

July 28, 2021

We are excited to launch our new drain care campaign: Free the Poo. This fun campaign has a serious message; we want Canberrans to think carefully about what they put down the drain or flush down the toilet. 

“The message is simple: help us “free the poo” so it flows to our treatment plant instead of being blocked up, or worse, flowing back to you,” said Icon Water Managing Director Ray Hezkial.

Canberra has recently been ranked as one of the worst Australian cities when it comes to total sewer main breaks and chokes per 100 km of pipes. Icon Water spent over $1.7 million clearing blockages in 2019-2020. As proud Canberrans, we intend to change this.  

Over 48,000 trees line the streets of our bush capital. And with all this good comes a little blockage.  We have an abundance of trees and typically not a lot of rain. This results in tree roots creeping into our sewerage pipes in search of water. A significant number of our blockages occur when wet wipes get caught or entangled with tree roots. 

“With ‘Free the Poo’, we especially hope to decrease the number of wet wipes being flushed down Canberra's toilets. We often don’t consider what’s happening below ground until we have to face the gross consequences above the ground, like a sewage overflow,” said Mr Hezkial. 

Wet wipes are more like cloth than toilet paper. Unlike toilet paper, they are not built to break down. They may get flushed down the toilet, but they cause disruption and blockages at every stage of our treatment process. Only the 3Ps should be flushed down the toilet – pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

Clearing a blockage involves our hard-working team of ‘Blockage Busters’ getting down in the sewer and manually tearing apart huge clumps of rubbish, mostly made up of wet wipes. Not only is this physically unpleasant for our staff, but it also causes significant disruptions to the lives of Canberrans and is ultimately costly for our community.

As your water and wastewater services provider, we care about what’s happening below the ground. Sanitation and hygiene are an essential but understated part of our beautiful city. Our community is only as healthy as the pipes that carry our waste away. 

To see more on the impact of wipes and other non-flushable items, go to freethepoo.com.au, but be warned, it is not for those with sensitive stomachs.

End statement

Watch the launch video here

Photos and video footage available here