Swiffers, diapers, towels and rocks?! Holyrood’s flushing habits don’t come cheap

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People in Holyrood are flushing more than just toilet paper — and it’s costing the town money.

Gary Corbett, the town’s chief administrative officer, told CBC on Thursday that the town’s sewer system is getting clogged up with things that should go in the garbage, not the toilet.

“One of the things we’re seeing a lot of is those floor Swiffers, the dusting Swiffer types, diapers — all kinds of material that’s not going to break down in the sewer system,” said Corbett.

Pumps getting burned out

Facecloths, towels and rocks — yes, rocks — have all been flushed.

“Full towel in our Main Beach lift station,” said Corbett. “We still haven’t figured out how that one got in there.”

It’s plugging up the pumps in the town’s lift stations, he added.

“If we don’t get public works staff there in a reasonable time period, we burn out the pump,” he said.

“The pumps that we have currently don’t grind it up. We do have grinder pumps as it enters the sewage treatment plant, but here [at a lift station] the pumps themselves just pump everything that’s there. And what happens, where it’s so deep into the ground, you can’t see it on a day-to-day basis.”

town’s sewer system

Staff monitor the pumps as much as possible, he said, and if one shuts down the other activates, but council just had to order two new pumps at a cost of more than $60,000, not including the labour to have them installed.

The lifespan of a pump should be 25 to 30 years, Corbett said, but the town is replacing pumps after they’ve been in use for only a couple of years, which is why it’s urging people to be careful about what they flush.

Vac truck needed

It’s not the first time, either; three and a half years ago, the town asked residents to stop dumping fat down the toilet. Corbett said the town has seen much less fat since that appeal to the public, and they hope residents will get this new message too.

It’s not just the new equipment that’s hurting town finances, said Corbett — when a pump shuts down, a vac truck has to be brought in to clean it out and truck it to the sewage treatment plant.

“Then in all likelihood you’ve got to bring in external contractors to deal with other facets of what may be going on, from electrical to mechanical,” he said.

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