Witnessing the beginnings of a fatberg in Wellington’s increasingly clogged sewers

Sewerage workers are scrambling to clear sewers in New Zealand towns and cities as more and more people throw fat down the drains and flush wipes down the toilet.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Seven Sharp’s Julian Lee went underground in the capital. Source: Seven Sharp

Occasionally, the workers stumble across the once mythical fatberg. 

Seven Sharp reported workers are battling Wellington's increasingly clogged sewers.

Grates designed to try and filter wastewater are getting overloaded with wet wipes, sanitary products "and the occasional condom," said Steve Hutchison of Wellington Water. 

"It's stuff we really don't want people to flush down the sewer. But it comes here and we have to pull out to protect the treatment process," he said as a grate full of the mess was removed, to be cleared.

Helping to bind the mess together is fat. That's from cooking oil, among other things that we used to save and reuse.

An estimated 20 per cent of restaurants are doing the right thing, however. They clear out their used oil regularly and pour it into a drum from where it's collected by a company that pays for it.

Wastewater experts say households should not tip their used fat and oil down the drain. Instead, put it in old container with something like paper towels that will help absorb it. And then throw it in the rubbish bin.

Otherwise another full-on fatberg could be in the making - a greasy timebomb ready to wreak blubbery havoc on urban Aotearoa.