A massive fatberg pulled out of a Melbourne sewer is being used as a reminder to keep wet wipes out of the pipes.

Yarra Valley Water has pulled out a 42-tonne fatberg following a surge in wet wipes, rags, tissues, paper towels and sanitary products being flushed in recent weeks.

The fatberg weighed more than a petrol tanker and took workers nine hours to dislodge and remove from the sewer.

The number of wet wipes, rags and other non-flushable products getting stuck in the sewer system is up by 20 to 30 per cent across Yarra Valley Water’s service area in Melbourne’s eastern and northern suburbs.

Wet wipes do not disintegrate once flushed and often rope together causing blockages. Fatbergs are created when wet wipes congeal together with fats and oils poured down the drain, causing huge blockages and damage to sewer pipes.

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Pat McCafferty says that wet wipes and anything other than toilet paper should not be flushed.

“People often buy wet wipes in good faith thinking that they are flushable as advertised. In fact, they don’t break down in the sewer system and can create expensive plumbing problems for customers sometimes up to $1000,” he said.

“If things keep going as they are, over the next six months we’re looking at increased maintenance costs of up to $1.6 million for repairing the damage caused by sewer blockages and fatbergs.”

Fatbergs cost Yarra Valley Water nearly $1 million in an average year, largely due to the 650 tonnes of wet wipes and rags that customers flush down the toilet.

During any ordinary week, Yarra Valley Water will retrieve almost 14 tonnes of wet wipes and rags from the sewer system.

Yarra Valley Water has run several public education campaigns encouraging customers to only flush ‘the three Ps’ down the toilet – poo, pee and toilet paper.