It’s the time of year for pranks and scares, ghosts and goblins. But there really is a terrifying situation underfoot each day in Hampton Roads. As residents throughout Hampton Roads treat their toilets as a trash can, ghoulish spills of untreated sewage threatened the health and safety of our homes, neighborhoods and local waterways. Banish the threat of sanitary sewer overflows with one small change: flush only toilet paper and your “personal contribution” down the toilet.
The wastewater system carries the dirty water from our sinks, showers and toilets through a series of pipes and pump stations to wastewater treatment facilities, where it is cleaned and made safe to be discharged back into local waterways. But sewer pipes were only built to handle water and easily dissolved items like toilet paper. Some items just weren’t meant to be flushed. Paper towels, cat litter, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, oils/grease and even the temptingly “flushable” wipes (they aren’t!) should all be tossed into the trash, not the toilet. When these pipe-goblins enter the wastewater system they clog pipes and tangle in machinery at pump stations, leading to breakdowns in the system and accidental spills of untreated sewage into streets, waterways and even into your home. Can you think of anything more terrifying?
Only slightly less scary is the cost of clogged pipes and broken pump station machinery. While many of these costs are out of sight and out of mind to the average citizen, local wastewater treatment employees see the impacts on a daily basis. Some troublesome areas of pipes require regular cleanings to de-junk the pipes from built up grease and trash. Many pump stations now require expensive grinders to chop up offending materials before they can enter the pump station and further damage the system. All these costs come at the expense of your local governments and HRSD. But there is no worse trick than finding the clog or backup on your end of the plumbing. If you think ghosts and goblins are scary, wait until you receive a hefty bill from a plumber.
So during this season of celebrating the horrid, chilling and creepy, please remember to protect our environment, our pipes and your pocketbook by only sending water and your “personal contribution” down the toilet.
For more small ways you can make a big difference just askHRgreen.org.