'No wipes down the pipes,' Antioch tells residents

  • Garbage accumulating at Antioch's wastewater treatment plant includes items that shouldn't be flushed and can damage the system and cause sewage backups.

    Garbage accumulating at Antioch's wastewater treatment plant includes items that shouldn't be flushed and can damage the system and cause sewage backups. Courtesy of village of Antioch

  • A member of the Lake County public works team clears material, mainly wipes and paper towels. causing a blockage at a sanitary lift station.

    A member of the Lake County public works team clears material, mainly wipes and paper towels. causing a blockage at a sanitary lift station. Courtesy of Lake County public works

  • Materials that shouldn't be flushed can clog pumps that propel wastewater to a sewage treatment plant.

    Materials that shouldn't be flushed can clog pumps that propel wastewater to a sewage treatment plant. Courtesy of Lake County public works

 
 
Posted8/9/2022 5:20 AM

Antioch officials urge residents to toss items that can create home plumbing issues or clog the public system instead of flushing them.

The village is reminding residents not to flush wipes, paper towels and other items that can damage equipment.

 

"When we think before we flush, not only are we potentially avoiding a mess literally and financially at home, we're also helping the community as a whole save money," Village Administrator Jim Keim said.

The advice comes as the village is seeing an increase in the amount of garbage accumulating at its wastewater plant.

"We have seen a significant increase in wipes and other items at our sewage treatment plant," Keim said. "We're making a plea to residents to help us keep the village's costs down by 'tossing instead of flushing.'"

Wipes of any kind, paper towels, dental floss, cat litter, and diapers are among the items that should not be flushed down the toilet. Also, hair, fat, oils and grease, vitamins or medications, tampons, condoms, sanitary napkins, bandages, and paint, stain, solvents, sealers or thinners should not be flushed.

While the items may pass through a home's plumbing, they can cause clogs down the line, resulting in sewage backups into homes or expensive damage at the treatment plant that's time-consuming to repair, Keim said.

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Only human waste or toilet paper should be flushed, according to public works officials.

"This is an issue for Lake County and agencies across the country," said Joel Sensenig, assistant director for the Lake County public works department.

"We like to remind residents that just because a product is marked 'flushable' does not mean that it can be flushed because they do not degrade like toilet paper and can end up clogging pipes and harming pumps," he added.

The county does preventive maintenance at 112 pumping facilities. An increase in well run time or the amount of water in a 'wet' well is a sign the pumps are clogged, Sensenig said.

Pumps need to be removed to unclog them, which requires special training as the work is done in a confined space. A crane is needed to lift the heavy pumps and motors.

"The majority of the blockages are from wipes and paper towels that should be disposed of rather than flushing," Sensenig said.

Flushing the wrong items also can interfere with the maintenance of the village's sewer system, spokesman Jim Moran said. "This is an important message and applicable to any community, not just Antioch," he said.

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