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We completely understand that no one wants to talk about poop--it’s a crappy topic. But fundamentally, one of the most important public services we offer is taking wastewater and converting it to a safe, environmentally friendly effluent that can be used for irrigation or discharge. In the past ten years, the nation has seen incredible growth in the use of "flushable" wipes. Since they are called "flushable", it seems logical to assume that they can safely be flushed, right? Unfortunately, they should NEVER be flushed.
We’re people too. We know the comfort benefits of the wipes and we understand why people use them. But flushable wipes are costing the Village (and Village residents) tens of thousands of dollars each year. That’s why we are asking our residents to never flush a "flushable wipe." Please consider discontinuing their use, or if you must use them, please dispose of them in the trash, and not the toilet.
The problem is that the very things that make flushable wipes a comfort/convenience also make them a huge liability! We understand that they are stronger than toilet paper, and hold up better to...personal use. But because of their strength, they do not break down in water like toilet paper does. This means that when they enter the sewer system, they stay as one whole cloth. This can clog up pipes, pumps and other parts of the sewer system. Fixing problems relating to flushable wipes costs the Village tens of thousands of dollars each year.
This is not an issue that is unique to the Village. Durham, North Carolina created a great video explaining the issue, and comparing the breakdown of toilet paper versus flushable wipes. You can see it here. You can repeat that same experiment at home. Put a flushable wipe in a bowl of water, and a piece of toilet paper in another bowl. Let them sit for a few minutes, and then stir with a utensil. The TP will break down completely. The flushable wipe will not break down. We’ll give you a graphic picture warning here...there are some gross pictures ahead. You can take our word for it if you can commit to NEVER flush a flushable!
Our wastewater system uses a series of lift stations and sewage receiving stations, which make use of pumps deep in the ground--thirty feet or more. That means that any work on the pumps requires lifting them out of these pits using a crane.
So what do flushable wipes do to the system? Because they don’t break down, they clog up pumps and cause them to stop working or fail--requiring disassembly and cleaning, or even replacement. Each individual pump has a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, plus the time and effort necessary to remove, service and replace them. These are the conditions our utility crews deal with on a daily basis.
Both of those photos are taken of pumps here, in Pingree Grove, that were completely plugged with flushable wipes. These plugs take significant time and expense to clear, and they also shorten the service lives of the pumps. This not only generates significant additional cost for our residents, but also creates environmental hazards and interruptions in sewer service. Trust us, we have more photos. It’s not a pretty picture.
Together, we can save Village residents thousands of dollars each year by remembering that you should only flush the 3Ps: Paper, Pee and Poo. And here are some adorable videos about the 3Ps, for all of our education...
Love your Loo
The 3Ps of Flushing
Again, we know that talking about poop is not fun. But the things that people flush are generating problems and increasing costs. Everyone would like to be able to just flush their toilet and not worry about anything happening afterwards. We’re happy to handle all of the downstream effects, and we want to be #1 in the #2 business...but we need your help. NEVER FLUSH A FLUSHABLE. Stick with the 3P’s!!!