Much of our modern society has distanced itself from its roots. We sanitize and disinfect, we buy shrink-wrapped slices of meat that look nothing like the creatures they came from, and we have some serious hang-ups about dealing with gross things.
We’re fortunate to live in a place where we can turn on the faucets and get running water, or flush a toilet and have all the waste transported far away. But because the extensive sewer system is buried, out of sight and out of mind, when things go wrong with it, they can go very, very wrong.
This week, the Charleston Water System experienced a major problem. Their pumps weren’t working, and something was clogging up their treatment plant.
If you’re a homeowner, chances are you’ve dealt with clogged pipes on your own property, and know how frustrating that can be. But when you’re a water treatment plant? The urgency was extreme.
But what do you do to find and remove the clog in such a place? A plumbing snake would be useless.
The Charleston Water System Facebook page posted a play-by-play of the process in order to highlight the issue and make people aware of a rather nefarious product that seems harmless but — clearly — wreaks havoc on plumbing.
“You know wipes clog pipes, right? If not, baby wipes clogged a series of large pumps at our Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday afternoon,” they wrote on Oct. 15. “Since then, we worked 24/7 to get them out. We started by using a series of bypass pumps to handle the normal daily flow.”
“The bypass pumps sure do move a lot of wastewater, but it actually took them three days to get our wet well back to normal levels,” they continued.
“Then we sent divers 80-90 feet deep into the wet well/raw sewage to search in complete darkness with their hands to find and identify the obstruction,” another post explained.
“As we expected, they came up with these large masses of wipes in their first two loads, with more to come.”
They sent divers into raw sewage. And it was so dark that they couldn’t see anything.
Let that sink in. The sheer nastiness of being consumed by a vat of swirling refuse would go way beyond triggering a sense of claustrophobia. What if they’d sprung a leak, 80 feet into a pit of putrescence? There’s no coming back from that.
When the divers came up, they were sprayed off with bleach. But the smell was probably unforgettable.
Divers brought up mountains of “flushable” wipes, along with some other non-flushables.
“They also found a baseball and a big piece of metal,” a post stated. “Don’t flush stuff like this. Joking of course, but you should only flush #1, #2, and toilet paper. The photo looking down into a pool of wastewater shows many other non-flushables. We made this pic low-res for your benefit.”
If all this talk of sewage and filth has got you thinking of Dirty Jobs, you’re not the only one! Several people have tagged Mike Rowe or shared the story with him because there’s just so much “eww” factor that he comes to mind immediately.
And now you know, if you didn’t know before: The “flushable” part of wipes is a lie! Don’t do it. You don’t want to clean out your own lines, and you certainly don’t want to be responsible for sending some poor diver’s soul into a black hole of muck.
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