To flush or not to flush. That is the question of most concern when using the Village of Marcellus’ municipal sewer system.
While it is not uncommon for users of sewer systems to adopt an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude toward items tossed into the loo/can/john/throne/crapper/commode, please remember that what goes in doesn’t always come out – and that can cause the problem of blockage.
“To create awareness” (Please tell me that Lake Superior State banished this phrase at some point), the Village of Marcellus reminds all users of the municipal sewer system that items deemed “flushable,” even “biodegradable,” can cause a clog. Clogs are bad. It may begin as a residential sink/bathtub/shower drain not draining or a toilet not flushing with the speed and force you’ve come to expect, or heaven forbid, it might even overflow. Egads! It gets worse for everyone from there. . .
Remember: The basic function of municipal sewer systems is to convey wastewater to a treatment plant and stormwater to public water bodies. In other words, sewer systems improve the living environment and protect cities and streets from inundation.
In order to function properly, municipal sewer lines must be kept clear of items that don’t degrade sufficiently. The sewer system is not like your colon. Bulk and fiber help the human colon function properly by giving it something to do. The sewer system is basically the fast lane from point A to point B. It can’t do its job if it’s plugged up.
So, please be aware of the difference between Flushable and Biodegradable:
Flushable: This term simply means that something is “suitable for disposal through wastewater networks and treatment systems.” The only items that are considered truly flushable by plumbing authorities are waste and toilet paper, but in excess even these can cause clogs.
Biodegradable: According to the dictionary, this term refers to “a substance or object capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms;” meaning it has the ability to be broken down naturally by the organisms in an ecosystem. (And this process can take time, which a municipal sewer system doesn’t have to give.)
Biodegradable wipes are designed to be thrown away (not flushed) with your usual household waste or composted.
When you ignore plumbing recommendations and flush single-use toilet wipes that will not break down quickly enough in the sewer system, you are contributing to a problem that could impact your entire neighborhood. On its journey through the pipes, there are several places your “flushable” wipe could contribute to disaster:
1) Private sewer laterals, septic systems, and sewer lines can overflow and cause property damage.
2) Sewer collection systems can become obstructed by a large collection of foreign materials that will not break down, possibly resulting in sewer spills.
3) Wastewater pumps can get clogged by wipes and experience system failure or other expensive damage to equipment.
4) Water treatment facilities will be overrun with masses of wipes that completely disrupt the filtration process.
If your wipe hasn’t managed to clog a component of the Village’s sewage infrastructure, it can move on to affect the environment. Even when a disposable wipe has broken down into smaller pieces, those fragments have the potential to poison natural ecosystems.
Other items that are currently posing a problem are the plastic Tampon applicators. Please dispose of these in the trash and NEVER flush them and DO NOT try to recycle them. (According to Cosmopolitan, the average plastic tampon applicator takes 500 years to decompose.)
One of nature’s greatest achievements – the tree – can be a culprit in clogged lines, too. While trees provide shade, oxygen, a haven for winged and furry friends, they can also put a crimp in the sewer system works. Roots grow where they want. Unfortunately, they sometimes invade sewer lines causing the dreaded clog which can lead to slow drains and leaks.
With this in mind, Marcellus has been informed that it will be necessary to remove approximately 20 trees throughout the Village during the upcoming lead service line replacement project. Please note that these trees will be replaced once the project is completed. The Village is only removing the trees that are absolutely necessary, so they do not interfere with the water lines/services.
This may seem a lot to digest; however, if the issue persists, the cost of correcting the clogs will continue to rise for both homeowners and the municipality. Start the new year with a new attitude. Err on the side of clog caution – Flush with Awareness in 2023!