Toilets aren't 'magical trash cans'

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Toilets are only intended to flush the three Ps - pee, poo and paper.

That's the word from Robert Manter, CSC's utilities shop supervisor, who's responsible for dealing with sewer line clogs, pump and equipment damage and spills and overflows that can harm the environment and threaten public health.

"People think the toilet is a magical trash can - simply toss, flush and it's magically whooshed away to some subterranean netherworld, never to be seen again," Manter pointed out. "But toilets and sewer pipes are designed to convey human waste and toilet paper only."

"We've had significant problems in housing and at our dining facilities," said CSC civil engineering manager Don Kinman. "We've had at least three major sewage backups within the last two months in which small amounts of raw sewage was actually running in the streets. This is not only a health concern, but it places Keesler at risk for possible fines from the state."

Part of the problem is that modern toilets use much less water and smaller drains, so there's less water to help push waste down the sewer lines.

Items that should never be flushed down the toilet are disinfectant and cleaning wipes, paper towels, rags, towels, washcloths, kitty litter, baby wipes, diapers of any kind, feminine hygiene products, mops and cleaning brush refills and needles, syringes and other medical waste.

Toilets aren't the only drains that people use to get rid of unwanted waste - people are also using sinks as trash cans.

"Since the invention of the garbage disposal, which claims to grind even the hard stuff such as small bones and fruit peels, people have used the sink drain for common digestion of kitchen waste," Manter explained. "As long as it fits, people throw it or pour it down the drain. Letting trash flow down these drains leads to clogs and sewage spills that can harm the environment.

"To make things worse, drain cleaners corrode and damage drains," he added. "If plunged, chemical burns or even an explosion can result."

A variety of substances can cause sewage spills. Fats, oils and grease, sometimes referred to as FOG, along with auto fluids can harden as they cool. Coffee grounds, egg shells and chunks of garbage stick to the FOG and create more problems. Bags, wrappers, solvents, paints and flammable and corrosive substances are also dumped into some workplace and residential drains.