Sewage issues compound during pandemic
Submitted by Mena Water Utilities
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected utilities in ways previously never seen and there will be repercussions for more years to come.
Utilities have struggled for years with non-degradable items in sewer systems-such as feminine products and “flushable wipes.”
For years, wastewater trade associations worldwide have lobbied to have “flushable” removed from wipes packaging.
While such items will indeed flush, they will not breakdown in sewer systems like toilet paper since they are made with plastic resins and tend to clump together as they work their way through the sewer system.
In the September 2020 issue of Pumps & Systems magazine was another article with examples of the effects of non-degradable items in sewer systems.
In this time of extensive cleaning, the article high-lighted instances of complete pump station shut-downs or multi-ton clogs created by flushed cleaning wipes,· paper towels, masks, and gloves.
Mena Water Utilities has not experienced clogs to the magnitude some utilities have; however, customers should still be vigilant. As the saying goes-sewer runs down hill.
Just because a person can flush something beside the three P’s – pee, poo, and (toilet) paper – from their own home or business does not mean it will not cause a problem for their neighbor.
As non-degradable items flow through sewer lines and mains, they catch on roots, bad patch jobs, and other such line defects.
Non-flushable items can also stick together with fats, oils, and grease to create “fatburgs” which clog sewer mains and pump stations.
A clogged sewer main or pump station will cause sewer water to start backing up in sewer lines. Too much wastewater sitting in a line, constantly being added too, has to go somewhere and unfortunately, that somewhere can be in a home or business.
Sewer overflows in a yard or street is bad but inside someone’s home or business is a horrible mess. While the focus of this article is public sewer systems, the same issues can happen for homes and business with septic tanks.
In conclusion, help keep sewage where it belongs-in the sewer system and put trash where it belongs-in the trash can.
-Charles Pittman, General Manager for Mena Water Utility