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Disposable wipes wreaking havoc on Thornbury’s wastewater treatment operations

'Flushable' wipes are clogging up the town's wastewater treatment system and causing major problems and equipment malfunctions

The Town of Blue Mountain works department is asking for the public's assistance to help improve the functionality of the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant - stop flushing disposable wipes.

“The Thornbury treatment plant has been struggling. This year has not been a successful year. We have had many issues,” said Allison Kershaw, manager of water and wastewater services. “These rags that are often labelled as 'disposable' or 'flushable,' are not flushable at all. At the very end of our treatment plant, where there is supposed to be disinfection occurring, all of these 'disposable' rags are collecting and causing major issues.”

According to Kershaw the cloth-like material doesn’t breakdown properly in the sewer system like toilet paper, despite product labels often suggesting the product can be flushed. 

“We are certainly having issues with our pumps and valves. We have struggled cleaning out the grit and clarifiers. We have actually had to shut down the system three times and had to pump the entire plant out to the lagoons in order to get the buildup of these rags out of the system,” Kershaw said.

These non-flushable wipes can block lines and clog equipment, often resulting in increased maintenance and repair costs.

“The message about these disposable rags not really being disposable is clearly not reaching the public in the way it needs to because we are aggravating the problem. We need to be part of that solution,” said Councillor Andrea Matrosovs.

The Blue Mountains town council will be looking at preparing an official communication piece from the town, specifically to try and get the message out to visitors and non-residents who may not be aware of the issue.  

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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