A large number of wet wipes clogged Reykjavík’s main sewage treatment plant yesterday. As a result, the Klettagarðar plant was forced to release untreated sewage into the ocean. The amount of wet wipes, including disinfectant wipes, flushed down Reykjavík toilets has increased greatly over the past several days, likely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flushed wet wipes are putting added strain on sewage treatment equipment, cleaners, and staff in the city.
When Reykjavík’s sewage system is clogged, pumps and other equipment must be taken out of use to be cleaned. While cleaning is underway, sewage from Reykjavík runs untreated into the sea. Veitur, the city’s sewage treatment company, encourages residents to throw wet wipes in the trash where they belong.
Iceland Review visited Klettagarðar earlier this year, where we spoke to Ólöf Snæhólm Baldursdóttir about this common problem. Each year, 350 tonnes of waste are collected by Reykjavík’s sewage filters. The trash has included false teeth, credit cards, phones, and toys. “It’s incredible that we still haven’t learned to use water toilets correctly, after all these years,” Ólöf stated. “So, we’ve been trying to teach people not to throw old phones, wet wipes, diapers, unpaid bills, broken dreams, or goldfish into the toilet.”
Read more about the hidden world of Reykjavík’s sewage system.