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COVID-19 is Wreaking Havoc at Wastewater Treatment Facilities Due to an Increase of “Flushable” Products

COVID-19 is Wreaking Havoc at Wastewater Treatment Facilities Due to an Increase of “Flushable” Products

Wastewater Operators along with Patty Potty Urge Everyone to Only Flush the 3 P’s

Wastewater treatment operators across the world have had the disgusting job of dealing with products that people toss down the drain and flush down the toilet for years.  Obviously some of the items are to be expected, but often times it is full of objects that really shouldn’t be there.  The “flushable” marketing strategy adopted by numerous manufacturers magnified that issue significantly, and it continues to get worse and worse.  

Since 2014, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) with the help of the vivacious Patty Potty, has sounded the alarm with a #NoWipes in the Pipes message asking everyone to Trash Em…don’t Flush Em. 

“People are flushing all kinds of things down the toilet!” Patty points out.  “It’s not a trash can, you know!  Some paper products and wipes are advertised as ‘flushable’ but they aren’t.  Sure, they will flush down, but they won’t flush OUT.  Wipes don’t decompose they get caught up in wastewater treatment plant screens and filters — and that costs money to clear and repair!”

Patty speaks for the pipes.  She is a 1950’s housewife…somewhat prissy, often bossy, and completely in charge of her home and family.  She is a likeable messenger who, armed with her pink plunger, is on a mission to put an end to stuff being flushed down toilets that ends up costing everyone money.

Patty’s message — NO WIPES IN THE PIPES — might be staged in the 50’s, but it continues to be vitally important in today’s water-conscious world.  Especially given the recent issues with COVID-19 and the shortages of paper products.  In fact, wastewater treatment operators are having to work overtime to deal with the increase in “flushable” products that are making their way to the treatment facilities.

“With empty store shelves in the toilet paper aisle, Woodlands Water Agency (WWA) is worried that residents will resort to using alternatives like wipes or napkins and then flush those items down the toilet,” WWA’s GM James M. Stinson, PE stated.   

“SJRA wants to remind everyone to only flush toilet paper and toss wipes into the trash can,” Chris Meeks SJRA Utility Enterprise O&M Manager said.  “Anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic could end up causing major problems in our system and messy overflows to deal with.”

SJRA, WWA, and Patty urge residents to take the “Potty Potty Pledge” to help protect water quality and the environment — by taking actions that will help prevent costly plumber bills and water treatment plant repairs, as well!  

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