What Not to Flush


The Water Services department recently hosted City Councillors on a tour of the Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. It was astounding to see firsthand how the treatment plant operates (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) to provide Calgarians with a safe and reliable source of drinking water. Operators, electricians, maintenance, the laboratories, and administrative employees all work together to ensure the integrity of Calgary’s water supply.

All the water that is flushed down toilets, drained from bathtubs, used for dishwashing / washing clothes – drains into a sewage collection system. This system is connected to our wastewater treatment plants. Wastewater moves through the sewer pipes by way of gravity and pump stations. Once the water gets to one of the treatment plants, it goes through a series of processes before it is released as clean water into the Bow River.

Protecting Our Wastewater System
As Calgarians, we can all do our part to ensure our sewer systems don’t get backed up. Protect the environment, our wastewater treatment system, and your home's plumbing with the following actions:

  • Toss "flushable" wipes and dental floss in the garbage;
  • Put used cooking oil, butter and fat into your Green Cart for composting;
  • Put food scraps in your Green Cart for composting; and
  •  Take expired medicine to a pharmacy.

The Truth About Wipes, Paper Towel and Kleenex

  • Wipes that claim to be flushable aren’t. Flushable wipes retain their shape and strength, and don’t break down in pipes.
  • Paper towel, facial tissue (Kleenex) and serviettes don’t break down like toilet paper, and will block your pipes.
  • Baby wipes and any items used as a toilet paper are put in your black cart. They do not belong in your green or blue bins.

Toss These Bathroom Items Into Your Garbage

  • Sanitary pads, tampons and applicators;
  • Diapers, wet wipes, rags, bandages;
  • Dental floss; and
  • Cotton swabs, condoms, cosmetics.

Hair
Hair build-up in our treatment plants can result in equipment being shut down for manual cleaning. Compost hair in your green bin, or it can also go in your garbage.

Fats, oils and grease (FOG)
Fats, oils and grease can build up in your pipes, restricting flow and leading to blockages in the system.

  • Always wipe pans and scrape dishes before rinsing them;
  • Put up to two litres of cooking oil, fats, sauces, drippings and grease in your green cart for composting; and
  • Solidify grease by letting it cool down. Mix oil with paper towel and put in a certified compostable bag to go in your green cart.

Medication
Take unwanted medication to a pharmacy for disposal. Flushing pills and medication can be harmful to the environment.

The Unflushables

Categories: General, Tips

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