To flush or not to flush, that is the question. It does not seem like a difficult dilemma. Everyone knows what is supposed to go down a toilet. But that isn't exactly what always ends up at the Athens-Clarke County Water Reclamation Facilities.
Often times items make it to our facilities that have the power to wreak havoc with our machines and equipment. The flushed unflushables lead to sewer backups along our pipe lines. These disruptions in the flow of wastewater create wear and tear on our systems, with the potential to create increased maintenance costs for the city of Athens. Other times the backup appears a little closer to home, with sewage seeping up through a bathtub or toilet in your own home.
But we have the power to prevent this by remembering one simple rule.
A sewer overflow can occur in your home.
The 4 P's of Flushing: Pee, Poo, Paper, and Puke
The 4 P's of Flushing is very basic. Only pee, poo, paper, and puke should go down a toilet. To clear up any potential confusion, the "P" representing "Paper" refers only to toilet paper.
Items that start with P but are NOT one of the P's
Prophylactics (aka condoms)
Plastics (such as tampon applicators)
Packaged "flushable" wipes/baby wipes
Personal care items
Ping pong balls
Items we have found at our water reclamation facilities. These items belong in the trash can, not the toilet.
There is not always truth in advertising. Flushable wipes claim to be safe for sewer and septic, but the fiber-strong wipes are proving otherwise. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to quickly disintegrate in water, the wipes keep their form as they travel through our pipes. View a comparison test conducted by ConsumerReports.org to see how toilet paper and flushable wipes respond to water.
As the wipes travel through the sewer system, they can catch on tree roots that have grown into the infrastructure and create sewer backups. Once arriving at the water reclamation facility, the wipes wrap around and clog equipment. The removal of this debris and the repair of damaged equipment can potentially lead to greater expenses for the Public Utilities Department and the citizens of Athens-Clarke County.
What can you do? Wipe-out wipes. Wipes include "flushable" wipes, baby wipes, makeup remover cloths, and disinfectant wipes. If you use these products, put them in the TRASH can, not the commode.