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Smart Home Wastewater Practices

Updated: Jun 3

Wastewater treatment is essential for modern urban infrastructure, prioritizing the treatment of used water before it returns to the environment. Many avoidable, everyday household actions can disrupt this process, causing problems and extra costs. By learning about these impacts, we can make better choices to support water treatment and protect nature.

Here are some common home practices to avoid and how they negatively impact the environment:

Improper Disposal of Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

  • Impact: Fats, oils, and grease can solidify in pipes, causing blockages in both household plumbing and municipal sewer systems. They can also interfere with the biological treatment processes at wastewater treatment plants.

  • Avoid: Do not pour cooking oil, grease, or fat down the drain. Instead, collect them in a container and dispose of them in the trash.

Flushing Non-Biodegradable Items

  • Impact: Items like wipes (even those labeled "flushable"), diapers, sanitary products, and cotton swabs do not break down easily and can cause clogs in the sewer system and damage equipment at treatment plants.

  • Avoid: Only flush toilet paper and human waste. Dispose of non-biodegradable items in the trash.

  • Tip: Remember the 3 P’s rule. Only flush pee, poop, and toilet paper. 

Disposing of Medications and Hazardous Waste

  • Impact: Pharmaceuticals and hazardous substances can pass through the treatment process and enter waterways, harming aquatic life and potentially affecting drinking water quality.

  • Avoid: Do not flush medications or pour hazardous substances like paint, solvents, or motor oil down the drain. Instead, utilize local take-back programs or hazardous waste disposal services.

A few less impactful practices that still must be kept in mind include: 

  • The use of too much water during heavy rainfall. This can overload the system as excess water may not be treated before returning to the environment. 

  • Improperly maintaining septic systems.

  • Dumping harmful chemicals and substances such as pesticides into the ground and down the drain. 

Some positive alternative solutions to the problems listed above are to use eco-friendly products and cleaners and to dispose of substances in the way they’re supposed to be. Most importantly, being mindful of our actions and how they can impact not only the wastewater treatment process, but the environment as a whole is the best way to support our planet.

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