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Holy crap! City of Seattle says improper flushing costing millions

A Seattle Public Utilities worker cleans a pump station clogged by improperly flushed materials. (Seattle Public Utilities photo)

The City of Seattle says some residents are doing a crappy job of keeping stuff out of the sewers that shouldn’t be there.

Seattle Public Utilities is launching a new effort to encourage people to think twice before flushing anything but toilet paper and human waste.

“Even if it doesn’t clog the toilet immediately, it will often clog a pump station which is part of the system getting that sewage to a wastewater treatment plant,” says Julie Howell, pollution prevention coordinator with Seattle Public Utilities.

The city spends upwards of $1 million each year to clean and maintain the pump stations. Howell says clogged sewers can also lead to sewage overflows in homes, causing thousand of dollars in private property damage.

“We took a look at two pump stations and over a three year period we found that the costs due to trash impacts were 44 percent of those total maintenance costs,” Howell says.

Howell says the city is making the new push because there seems to be an increase in the problem, and will become worse as the population continues booming.

“Even products that advertise themselves as flushable cause problems because they don’t actually break down easily,” Howell says.

Prohibited items include paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs, personal and baby wipes, hair, dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, and cat litter.

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