1 NEWS can reveal wet wipes flushed down toilets are causing pumping stations to break down weekly when normally they have problems only once or twice a year.
Repairs for breakdowns are costing ratepayers three times as much as regular maintenance.
Watercare staff say the sanitizing wipes problems are unprecedented and came as people became more concerned about avoiding coronavirus.
"People are scared of Covid-19 so they're cleaning a lot more and instead of chucking it in the rubbish, they want to get rid of the virus, so they chuck it down the toilet - out of sight out of mind," waste plant technician Alain Sayers told 1 NEWS. Read more and watch video