Most “flushable” products are no such thing

Flushing anything but toilet paper can cause massive sewage clogs—at your expense

Pump Station #9Don’t believe those ads promoting so-called “flushable” products that can supposedly be safely disposed of in your toilet. For the most part, the claims are a bunch of malarkey.

Just ask Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Pump Station No. 9.

Sitting on the shore of Lake Washington near a large public beach, the station is in constant operation—pumping Seattle’s sewage to the treatment plant at the rate of 130 gallons per minute. Despite its steady pumping, the station requires continual maintenance to free it of paper towels, tissues, wet wipes, and other products that should have been put in the trash.

A new video just posted by SPU shows these thick, gross blockages and the work performed by SPU crews to clear them.

Almost half of Pump Station 9’s maintenance costs are spent clearing the clogs. It costs about $1 million each year to clean and maintain all of Seattle’s 68 sewage pump stations. King County maintains another 14 pump stations within the City of Seattle.

Without that steady maintenance, clogs at Pump Station 9 would cause sewage to overflow into Lake Washington. Pump stations throughout the city are located in public spaces, shopping centers, and residential areas — and they pose similar threats.

To be kind to Station 9 and her sisters, please do not flush paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs, personal and baby wipes, hair, dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms or cat litter. Even products advertised 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.