Flushable wipes education earns municipality pollution prevention award

Sept. 11, 2015

Since the wipes do not break down in sewers, they can cause expensive damage to wastewater treatment facilities.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Sept. 4, 2015 — The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) received the WuHoo! Pollution Prevention Award from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (The Water Board), according to a press release.

The Water Board presented the honor at its Sept. 9 meeting, noted the release. In memory of former board employee Dr. Teng-chung Wu, the organization gives out the award annually.

Wu believed that in lieu of using expensive treatment systems, keeping pollutants out of wastewater was the best way to keep San Francisco Bay clean, reported the release. CCCSD earned the award for leadership in public education regarding flushable wipe problems.

Since the wipes do not break down in sewers, they can cause expensive damage to wastewater treatment facilities as well as blockages and backups that overflow into streets and homes, shared the release. These backups present risks to people and the environment.

Disposable wipes, even those labeled ‘flushable,’ are a problem for all wastewater collection and treatment agencies," said Melody LaBella, CCCSD pollution prevention program coordinator, in the release. "Significantly more maintenance work is required to remove wipes from sewer pipes, pumps and treatment plant equipment. We feel it’s important to do what we can to minimize the sewer overflows they cause."

The district began its flushable wipe education effort in 2009, stated the release. Its "Wipes Clog Pipes!" campaign used community events, newsletter, social media advertising and a billboard to spread the message.

CCCSD is working to create new flushability guidelines and improve the wipes’ design and labeling with industry groups, shared the release.

You can find the entire release here.

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