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October 2014
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CityLink Seattle

Keep Trash Out of Toilet

Even paper towels, facial tissue, and cotton swabs contribute to clogs

Clogged SewerDo you live in Seattle? Do you use a toilet?

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is asking residents to think twice before flushing anything but toilet paper or human waste. Flushing anything else can cause clogging of expensive equipment, flooding, and overflow of raw sewage into homes and Seattle waterways.

Major clogging problems occur at pump stations (see SPU video), which carry sewage from homes and businesses to treatment plants. Approximately 64 percent of Seattle’s wastewater flows through at least one pump station before being treated. It costs $1 million each year to clean and maintain them.

Flushing foreign items can also cause clogging in residential side sewers, leading to sewage overflows in homes. In addition to clogging pumps and polluting waterways, sewage overflows can cost thousands of dollars in private property damage.

Prohibited items include paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs, personal and baby wipes, hair, dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, and cat litter. Even products that advertise themselves as “flushable” cause problems in the sewer, as they do not easily break down. Foreign objects that are able to flush in the literal sense still lead to clogging in the sewer.