Hampton buying grinders to keep sewer lines clear
Breaking up is hard to do for what some folks flush down toilets.
Disposable wipes, for example, top the list.
The cloth-based squares clog pumps in sewage-treatment plants — not to mention pipes under backyards — and can be more costly than convenient.
“The bottom line is these products do not break down in the water stream,” said James Degnan, director of the Hampton Township Department of Environmental Services.
“If people simply threw them in the trash, versus flushing them down the toilet or putting them down the drain, they could save themselves hundreds of dollars in plumber's expenses.”
Trashing the wipes also might save people future tax dollars.
To help cope with the wipes, Hampton Council voted June 25 to spend $461,515 for a package of sewage-treatment equipment, including two wastewater grinders known as Dimminutors.
They will replace a pair of worn-out comminutors that shred fiber-based products, including disposable wipes, that flow into Hampton's sewage-treatment plant off Duncan Avenue, the township's biggest physical asset.
“If we didn't have a rag (disposable wipes) problem, we wouldn't be spending nearly $300,000 on these two pieces of equipment,” Degnan said of the Dimminutors.
“As costs are increased to my department, or any other sanitary authority, those costs unfortunately are passed on,” he said.
Simply throwing away disposable wipes “can alleviate literally hundreds of dollars in a plumber's bill for your own personal (sewer) line, and future expenses that are going to be generated because we have to deal with these waste products,” Degnan said.
“These things are destroying systems not just in the United States, but around the world,” Degnan said.
“This is not just a problem we're dealing with in Hampton.”
Are local plumbers noticing an increase in sewer line problems involving disposable wipes?
“Definitely,” said Terry Mertz, owner of Terry's Plumbing in Ross Township.
If a sewer pipe in a yard is flattened or invaded by tree roots, disposable wipes then can ball up and get stuck in the narrowed pipe or roots, and that ultimately can create a blockage that leads to a plumbing bill.
Unlike toilet paper, which breaks down and can flow through tree roots, disposable wipes become caught in roots.
“I pull roots out, but once I pull roots out, there's a big softball on the end of my cable” full of wipes, Mertz said.
“They don't break down,” Mertz said. “Get a few of them together, and you can have a bulletproof vest.”
Feminine products also pose problems for sewer systems.
“Basically, there are a lot of materials that were never designed to be flushed down a toilet or put down a drain, but people do it anyway. It's a convenience,” Degnan said.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Workshops provide parents facts about North Hills math program
- St. Ursula School in Hampton to show off 104-year success story
- Nature mural in North Park makes up Girl Scout project
- Auto-repair shop plan for former Wexford fire station hits opposition
- Pine puts windmill back on sale
- Workshop on dealing with divorce to be offered at Hampton church
- North Hills Drama Club goes ‘green’ with musical
- Cutbacks limit tax forms available at North Hills-area libraries