Flushable wipes were the cause of a recent overflow issue in the Town of Purcellville.
On March 17 around 5pm, the Town was notified that the Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management (DFREM) received a call that a Town resident had reported a hazardous waste spill. Upon arrival, DFREM along with Town staff determined that a sanitary sewer overflow had occurred from a manhole adjacent to the East End Pump Station.
As the fire department deployed booms to contain the overflow, the Town's staff cleared the blockage in under 30 minutes minimizing the impact to the environment. Town staff calculated that less than 1,000 gallons had left the manhole. Unfortunately, small quantities of liquid (supernant) did reach the adjacent creek; however, no solids observed by staff in or around the creek.
When investigating the pump station and auxiliary equipment, it was determined that a large mass of wipes and other debris had clogged the grinder pump which in turn created the backup. Staff conducted their routine inspection of the facility earlier that day and all equipment was clear and functioning properly.
Over the years, flushable wipes have been a serious issue in the water reclamation industry. The Town says it is paramount that citizens and businesses understand the negative impacts of flushing improper materials down drains and toilets.
Aside from clogging the Town's infrastructure, improperly disposed waste can also clog a homeowner's or business owner's pipes, which can cause damage and is the responsibility of the property owner to fix and clean up. The following materials should never be flushed down a toilet:
Rags, towels, washcloths
Needles, syringes and other medical waste
Toilet seat covers
Feminine hygiene products
Mop/cleaning brush refills
Fats, Oils, and Grease