Protecting our Water Supply One Flush at a Time
Californians are well aware of the water crisis affecting the state, and if the drought wasn’t enough of a concern affecting our water supply, now we have the added concern of sewer clogging and damage due to flushable wipes. Wet wipes are not a new invention, and hey, any of us with babies know what a miraculous invention they were; however, instead of being disposed of in the garbage as intended, many are being flushed instead. This type of disposal is creating quite a problem for both homeowners and waste water plants.
There are several wipes on the market today that are labeled as “flushable” and while they certainly CAN be flushed down the toilet, the question is SHOULD they be flushed? Many wipes, even those labeled as flushable don’t break down fast enough in the sewer lines and are causing thousands, if not millions, of dollars of damage and affecting our water supply. In fact, they are becoming notorious for binding up municipal pumps and blocking both private and public sewer lines.
Currently there is a class action lawsuit aimed at the makers of baby wipes, antibacterial towelettes and some feminine hygiene products. Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Wipes, Charmin Freshmates, Scott Naturals Flushable Moist Wipes and Pampers Kandoo Flushable Wipes were some of the companies specifically called out in the lawsuit. The suit is aiming to make labelling more consistent and to have independent third party testing to make sure their product does indeed break down fast enough to be labelled as flushable.
In order for this type of mandate to work, consumers also must become more educated on what types of materials are safe for flushing. Some water utilities are promoting only the three “p’s” to be flushed; pee, poop and toilet paper. While some manufactures are partially to blame, consumers also need to take some responsibility. If an article is not completely biodegradable, it should never go down the toilet; paper towels, baby wipes etc.,
Many of our sewer systems are already over taxed due to insufficient infrastructure, growing populations and climate change. With several California counties already relying heavily on recycled waste water for a portion of their water supply, we need to be careful to protect it as much as possible. Remember that what goes down the toilet WILL end up in our water supply; from wipes to pharmaceuticals, we need to be conscious of what we are introducing into our waste stream.
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