Give the gift of clean pipes this season
Deck the halls not the drains
South Fort Collins Sanitation District (SFCSD) would like to wish our customers a very happy holiday season! From all of our hard-working employees to your family, we love giving the gift of high-quality, reliable water treatment year-round.
Since it is a busy time of the season for many with family, friends and feasts, we would like to send a friendly reminder to be careful what you put down the drain this time of year.
With more than 400 miles of collection lines, our team works diligently to monitor and maintain these lines in order to prevent clogs and backups that can affect customers. However, we can only do so much. In addition to our work, we look to our customers to do their part to prevent problems by watching what they flush down their toilets and drains.
The simple adage is “when in doubt, throw it out.” That means before you put something down the drain make sure it is supposed to be in there and won’t ruin your festive season with a backup.
When it comes to what to flush, remember the three P’s: pee, poo & (toilet) paper. These three things are designed to break down during the treatment process and keep things flowing as they should.
Although there are other products that market themselves as “flushable,” anything outside of the three P’s can cause damaging clogs or backups further into the wastewater system.
Here is a list of the most common items that we find at the water reclamation facility.
Naughty and nice list
- These do not get removed through biology and can end up in waterways. Instead of flushing them, we recommend using a medication disposal program, like those indicated onthis map from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
- Swiffer pads and flushable wipes
- As mentioned above, even though they may be called ‘flushable,’ wipes and pads like these aren’t designed to break down during the treatment process. That means they can cause clogs or must be removed during the early stages of wastewater treatment, requiring more time and money.
- Disposable floss picks and floss
- Similar to the “flushable” wipes, these items don’t break down during our process and must be removed from the wastewater before it can continue through treatment.
- Imagine what happens to a drain in your home with your family’s hair. Now multiply that by every home in the District! Just like in your drain, hair collects into pumps and other areas of the system and can cause the flow of wastewater to slow or be blocked entirely. We end up with hair ropes (weighing hundreds, even thousands, of pounds) that must be removed from our systems to prevent blockages from becoming even worse. We much prefer visions of sugar plums than hair ropes!
- Don’t let those new gifts wind up getting flushed. When parents turn their backs, sometimes things happen. We get it, but Legos and Barbie dolls are best kept out of the sewer system.
- Kids aren’t the only ones to drop toys down the toilet. We tend to see a number of phones that mom or dad send down the sewer. Accidents happen, but it’s better to wash off that new iPhone than to just flush it. It’s also a lot cheaper.
- Speaking of cheaper, don’t be the one who flushes brand new jewelry down the drain this season. A new ring or watch makes for a great gift for your significant other but be careful that it fits well on that finger or wrist, so we don’t find it downstream here.
- This one may seem hard to believe, but believe it or not, people literally flush money down the drain. We see it. Keep your money in your pocket this season – come January when those bills start arriving you might just need it.
Unlike Santa Clause, we like to keep our nice list short and simple. But don’t worry, we always check it twice through high quality water testing.
- Toilet Paper
Sinks and other drains
While the toilet may be an easy place to send things down the drain, they are not the only pipes in the home. Sinks and other drains can also be culprits of clogs, especially, when cooking delicious festive meals.
A good rule of thumb is to keep fats, oils and grease (commonly referred to as FOG) out of your drains. FOGs don’t break down, even when you run your garbage disposal, and clogs can send untreated wastewater backward into homes. We’re guessing that is not on your wish list this year!
In addition to obvious culprits, like cooking grease, other naughty items include things like salad dressing, which can contain large amounts of oil. You should also consider what is being put into your garbage disposal, as these solids cannot travel through the system as easily and cause clogs along the way.
To be safe, consider scraping plates into the trash can rather than the sink and be sure to properly dispose of your FOG by sealing into a container and throwing into the trash or taking it to an oil recycling center.
Make it a safe and happy holiday season by following the nice list and avoiding that naughty list. For more information on keeping those pipes clean visit fclwd.com/wastewater/about-us/do-not-flush/