Toys, eyeglasses, cellphones surface in Ohio sewer system

July 15, 2018 - 7:31 pm
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CINCINNATI (AP) — Workers in a metropolitan sewer district in Ohio have amassed an impressive collection of toys, eyeglasses and other objects that made their way through the sewer system.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati provides wastewater collection and treatment for businesses and residents in Hamilton County and small portions of adjacent Butler, Warren and Clermont counties. Its combined sewer system takes in water from storm drains and sanitary sewers. WVXU radio in Cincinnati reports that most of the water cycling through Hamilton County eventually ends up at the district's Mill Creek Station, where solid items are stopped by bar screens and transferred to a conveyer belt.

Brad Blankenship, a plant supervisor at the station, says items including balls, cellphones, credit cards and watches have been found. Blankenship and co-workers grab the interesting finds and add the sanitized objects to a shelf in the plant.

Blankenship says items on the shelf include a baseball, a miniature rubber duck, eyeglasses and toy cars.

"Imagine a 3-year-old who likes to flush things down the toilet," Blankenship said.

District officials warn that some waste is small enough to get through the screens. Keith Heffner, the sewer district's assistant superintendent says that includes cooking grease and fat, which some people pour down the drain.

"Even though you put some soap with it, you put some hot water with it, it's gonna break it up, but it's going to re-congeal once it loses temperature and gets into the collection system," Heffner said of cooking grease and fat.

Grease will mix with anything it comes into contact with, including plastic, leaves and baby wipes, Heffner said. He says even though wipes may be flushable in toilets, they will not break down before they get to the treatment plants.

The clogs can jam pumps and require maintenance work. This translates to lost time and money.

The sewer district is working on a public service campaign to discourage putting the wrong stuff down the drain. It's tentatively called "Love Your Loo."

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