NEW BETHLEHEM – An overabundance of non-flushable items making their way to the waste water treatment plant continues to be a concern for Redbank Valley Municipal Authority officials.
RVMA vice chairman Lum Adams said last week that a constant accumulation of non-flushable debris is causing problems at the sewage treatment plant.
“Things were bad before the coronavirus hit, but it’s been getting worse,” Adams said, noting that while all kinds of items have made their way to the plant, the most abundantly observed has been disinfectant wipes used to clean household surfaces.
“Everybody has these sanitary wipes, and they look like flushable wipes that some people use, but they are not biodegradable,” he continued.
According to Adams, disinfectant wipes and other non-flushable items can clog pumps and cause other problems at the sewage treatment plant, which can mean frequent cleanings and expensive repairs for the authority.
“It’s becoming a very expensive problem,” he said, noting that RVMA recently had to bring in a vacuum truck from Brookville to clear a large amount of debris out of one of the beds at the plant.
“There’s a chain that runs the entire operation that is typically the size of a bicycle tire,” he said. “When the guys went down to look, they discovered it was the size of a vehicle tire, just wrapped in sanitizing wipes.”
With minimum costs to remove the debris estimated at around $1,000 each time, Adams said the added expense could potentially affect customer rates in the coming year if the issues continue.
“We have to make up for those costs somehow,” he said.
Adams urged RVMA customers to stay mindful of what they flush down the toilet, and to remember that just because it flushes doesn’t mean it leaves the system.
“Years ago, people made sure they didn’t put stuff like that down the toilet because it would clog the lines on their property and pump raw sewage into their basement or yard,” he said. “With our system, it won’t clog at your property, but it will move downstream and eventually get to the treatment plant where it causes the problems.”