The 3 P’s to protect your sewers

In closing an issue on SeeClickFix this week, I received some positive comments about my public service announcement on what to flush and what not to flush to help keep the sanitary system and treatment plant in good condition. This isn’t specific to Revelstoke, but is best practice for all sewer systems.

Here’s a graphic you can share, and here’s a link to the SeeClickFix conversation, and my longer comment – the text is below:

This is a long comment, but it has been a big issue for a large number of residents. We’re a month into the installation of the mixers at the sewer lagoon and the operation of the sewer odour control equipment, and the odours from the building are down to almost nothing, as the activated carbon filters do their job scrubbing the odour forming compounds from the air.

The lagoons continue to improve in health, and even with the run of hot weather over the past couple of weeks, the mixers are helping keep the ponds working in a healthy, aerobic state.The operators have found that the mixers are requiring significant cleaning, as the mixing action is bringing rags, “flushable wipes”, sanitary pads, tampons and other materials to the surface. We are hoping that this level of effort will reduce over time as these materials are removed from the ponds. Note that the City does have a Screen Separator installed, so most of the solids are screened before entering the lagoons, but if this equipment is offline for maintenance, additional solid material can enter the ponds. Here’s an article about the screening equipment:

Note that flushable wipes should not be flushed, nor should any other wipe, cloth or sanitary device other than toilet paper. Because the internet is a vast resource for discovering extreme municipal oddities, here is an article about a 14 tonne, bus sized congealed ball of fat and baby wipes that was found in a London sewer. While Revelstoke hasn’t dealt with anything that size, it is a constant issue in lift stations and sewer mains.

For the health of your sewer service, to minimize the chance of sewer backups, and to protect the City’s system; you should only flush the “three Ps”: pee, poop and toilet paper, and in the kitchen remove solids as well as cooking fats and greases from pans and dishes before washing them.

There are still some odours noticeable occasionally particularly with the hot weather, this is pretty normal for an aerated lagoon system, and the City will continue to monitor and investigate ways to limit the odours. The 5-year capital plan does have funds for sewer lagoon upgrades in 2019, over the next few years we will begin to develop options and cost estimates for these upgrades, which will likely focus on increased sewer flows due to development.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

2 replies on “The 3 P’s to protect your sewers”

  1. Wait a minute…

    “Note that flushable wipes should not be flushed”
    “should not be flushed”


    Are the people who make flushable wipes lying by calling them flushable?

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