Covid-19 Wastewater Update
Here is some important information from our Cedar City Treatment Facility Pre-treatment Program regarding personal & disinfectant wipes being used in lieu of toilet paper.
***Personal & Disinfectant Wipes Clog Pipes***
Due to our countries recent medical crisis, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has notified local authorities that municipalities around the nation are either experiencing an increase in Sanitary Sewer Overflows due to the increased use and flushing of personal and disinfectant wipes and in some cases wastewater treatment facilities have experienced a loss of nitrification that they believe is due to the increased toxicity loading possibly due to the disinfectants in these wipes. The Cedar City wastewater treatment facility Pre-treatment Program has primary responsibility for applying and enforcing any National Pre-treatment Standards or Regulations established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with The Clean Water Act. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has asked all Pre-treatment Programs to provide public outreach or public service announcements to their communities regarding the impacts of the increased flushing of personal and disinfectant wipes.
As applied to our City, I would first like to educate you regarding the current wastewater infrastructure, CCRWTF, and related wastewater systems. With a total of 9,453 sewer connections and a population base of 42,219, all generated wastewater is distributed to the Cedar City treatment facility through approximately 240 miles of sewer lines and over 4,000 sewer access points. Most sewer lines are designed to deliver wastewater via gravity flow yet, in some cases the topographical geography of land requires the use of mechanical Sewer Lift Stations. For these elevated topographic areas, the Cedar City treatment facility has five (5) active mechanical Sewer Lift Stations installed to further assist wastewater distribution. Additionally, within the calendar year 2019 twelve (12) major sewer lines were repaired, 44.4 miles of sewer lines where cleaned and 39.3 miles had been videoed.
As applied to personal and disinfectant wipes and their effect on the efficient operation of our Sewer Systems, Cedar City treatment facility, and general public health. Upon disposal, (down the drain or toilet) of personal wipes, disinfectant and/or pre-moistened towelettes; they do not disintegrate in a manner such as toilet paper. Unlike toilet paper, personal and disinfectant wipes are designed with a cloth-like material that does not allow for standard break-down in Sewer Systems. Due to this, these types of wipes can accumulate within the Sewer System and cause problems. The increasingly popular application of low-flow toilets, showerheads, and fixtures may reduce excessive water usage yet, when personal and disinfectant wipes are used in conjunction with low-flow fixtures/appliances it can cause a diminished wastewater-flow. This diminished wastewater flow can allow wipes and similar products to dry up, clump together and become hard like a rock. If this occurs, it can inevitably cause serious obstructions in your sewer lateral and potentially cause a Sanitary Sewer Overflow. Upon traveling further down-stream, these wipes can also cause problems not limited to; blocking other sewer lines, clogging City mechanical Sewer Lift Stations and cause interference of Cedar City treatment facility systems/equipment.
As the consumer of such products, please understand that just because something is marketed as disposable or flushable does not mean it’s necessarily a good thing for your City Sewer Systems. The products appeal to consumers in part because of the manufacturer’s claims that they can be conveniently flushed down the toilet. This is an issue that has recently been thrust into the national spotlight through an uptick in televised product marketing by trusted household brand names and new start-up companies attempting to capture a piece of the $6 billion-a-year industry.
Problems such as these significantly increase the cost to operate, maintain equipment/systems and can even require the City to repair and/or replace equipment/systems. In fact, upwards of 90 percent of Sanitary Sewer clogs are related to items that are not supposed to be flushed, like personal wipes. If used as either a cleaning product or personal hygiene, please understand that paper towels, feminine products or baby wipes, personal wipes and disinfectant wipes should never be flushed or otherwise disposed into the City Sewer System.
This article has been furnished to the public by the Cedar City treatment facility Pre-treatment Program. For more information or questions pertaining to the article please feel free to contact the Cedar City Pre-treatment Program Coordinator, Peter Sury at 435-865-4552.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!