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To Flush or Not to Flush

Article submitted by City of Sedona AZ

This article written by Charles Mosely, Director of Wastewater, and submitted by the City of Sedona AZ

Sedona AZ (August 13, 2015)What not to flush?

If you are connected to the City of Sedona Wastewater system, when you flush your toilet or wash something down your drain, it begins a five mile or more journey to the Sedona Wastewater Reclamation Plant. During this journey the water moves fast and slow, continuously and in slugs, and through pumps to reach the Wastewater Plant located five miles outside of the City.

There are things that should never start that journey because they have the potential to cause problems within the sewer system.

The basic rule regarding what to put in a sewer drain is captured by two guidelines:

  • Human waste and toilet paper
  • Only water from the faucet.

Failing to follow these two guidelines can contribute to problems such as pipe plugs, plugged pumps, and unnecessary pollution. Pipe plugs result when materials drop out of the water flow and clump together to form flow restricting masses in the pipe. Restricting pipe flow can lead to sewer overflows, if wastewater flows out of the sewer pipes onto the ground surface.

Putting trash such as cigarettes, waste food, diapers, sanitary products, and paper towels into the sewer can contribute to forming flow blocking masses. For the same reason, wastewater that contains significant amounts of sand and grit created by grinding activities and hobbies should be filtered to remove this debris before sending the water down the drain. The sand and grit settles in the pipe.

Oils and greases poured down a drain will cool, solidify, and cling to sewer pipe walls. Like plaque in our arteries, this buildup blocks flow.

Dental floss, baby wipes, facial tissues, and mop strings also cause problems in the sewer. These materials often wrap around pipe impellers and reduce pump efficiency. Stringy material, besides wrapping itself around pumps, can get tangled with material in the pipe and result in larger clumps of debris attempting to move through the sewer.

Sedona Police Department is located on Roadrunner Drive in west Sedona

Sedona Police Department is located on Roadrunner Drive in west Sedona

The proper way to dispose of medicines is in the trash or by taking them to the Sedona Police Department. Anyone can take their medication pills to the police department front lobby and deposit it in the RX drop box. You do not have to leave any personal information when you drop off the pills. Some of the compounds in the medicine can survive the wastewater treatment process and may cause harm to fish wildlife.

Hazardous compounds such as gasoline and other vaporous liquids can create explosive or other dangerous conditions in the sewer. Sewers have been known to explode.

It may surprise many that baby wipes and facial tissues do not belong in the sewer. The reason is that they are made of materials that do not readily break up in water like toilet paper does. For this reason they are not truly flushable like toilet paper, which breakups up in a minute or less once it enters the sewer. Visit the website ConsumerReports.org to view an interesting video, “Are Flushable Wipes Flushable?

The proper place for disposing of the problem-causing items mentioned above is the garbage or a hazardous waste facility. Properly disposing of waste reduces problems in the sewer system.

For additional information, check out the “What 2 Flush” article under “News” on the Wastewater Department page at www.SedonaAZ.gov.

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1 Comment

  1. Admit reading it because of title! LMAO

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