Dún Laoghaire Regatta, An Taisce, Irish Water urge patrons not to flush plastics
Nappies, wipes, cotton buds block plumbing, litter beaches, says Clean Coasts expert
‘Sewage-related litter is one of the categories of waste we find on our beaches,’ said An Taisce. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Dún Laoghaire visitors and locals are being asked not to flush wet wipes, cotton buds and nappies down toilets during this weekend’s regatta boating festival.
Irish Water, in partnership with An Taisce’s Clean Coasts and the Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta organising committee, has appealed to people to only allow the “Three Ps” (pee, poo and paper) into the town’s sewage system to “safeguard Dún Laoghaire’s precious marine environment”.
Not only do sanitary items and plastics block internal plumbing systems, they frequently end up as “beach litter” because waste-water treatment plants are not designed to process them.
“Sewage-related litter is one of the categories of waste we find on our beaches, however its presence is preventable through some simple measures,” Clean Coasts manager Sinead Mc Coy said.
“Through the Think Before You Flush campaign we are working with Irish Water to change the nation’s flushing behaviour which will make a difference to our coastal environment,” she said.
Martin Carroll, Irish Water’s head of wastewater operations for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said people needed to realise the extent of the damage caused by non-flushable items.
“Items such as wipes, cotton buds, plasters and nappies cause serious problems in homes, sewers and the marine environment when flushed down the toilet. The size and scale of the impact of flushing the wrong items is incredible, for example a plastic cotton-bud stick can take 150 years to break down in the sea.”
Irish Water was investing in wastewater infrastructure across the State he said, including the construction of new wastewater treatment plants, upgrading old plants and laying new sewers.
“However, it is still really important that people recognise the impact of what they flush so the network can function efficiently and effectively. Placing a bin in the bathroom and disposing of wet wipes and other sanitary items appropriately has a hugely positive impact on the network and the environment.”
Clean Coasts will have a Think Before You Flush information stand located in the race office for the duration of the regatta.
Hydration stations, where reusable water bottles can be refilled, will also be used at the regatta as well as “real” crockery and compostable and reusable glasses and straws. Segregated rubbish bins will also be available.