Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BeMus Point, NY - You Won't Want to Go There

Yes, I realize there's a lot going on 'out there' lately that I could write about.  Trending topics include Ted Cruz continuing his Filibuster marathon, the pending implementation of ObamaDon'tCare, Iran's leader snubbing our bold President at the U.N., and the thing that no one talks about (anymore) the fact that this is the fourth (or is it the fifth?) year in a row in which the Congress has neglected their Constitutionally prescribed duty of passing a federal budget.  

Instead, they opt for multiple Continuing Resolutions which mean, basically, "We can't figure it out, all we know is we need more money to cover what we already plan on spending, we must have an increased Debt Limit, and we're looking to hand this mess over to your kids.  Perhaps they'll be the 'Adults' we're looking for...  Because we have no adults in DC currently..."

No, I won't be writing about any of the above as there are folks much more serious than I who live and breath this stuff - and it isn't me (not today, at least).  If you're looking for reasons to get cranky with Congress and the endemic dysfunction of the Federal Government - open any newspaper, read any article online, or better yet, drive to DC to watch concrete curbs being removed from the streets only to be replace with shiny new 'Marble' curbs.  


Because you either don't know, or worse, they believe that you don't care.

But hey, we're not talking curbs, budgets, or dysfunction today!  We're talking about something really important, a thing which hits close to home as it has to do with my very own home state, New York.  Specifically, today's post is about a magical place called BeMus Point, New York.

Set your compass for North by Northwest, grab your rain slicker, your googles, and finally, pull on your big ol' rubber boots.  

We're going in... 

CBS, September 23, 2013:  Popular Bathroom Wipes Blamed for Sewer Clogs

BEMUS POINT, N.Y. — Increasingly popular bathroom wipes — pre-moistened towelettes that are often advertised as flushable — are being blamed for creating clogs and backups in sewer systems around the nation.

Wastewater authorities say wipes may go down the toilet, but even many labeled flushable aren’t breaking down as they course through the sewer system. That’s costing some municipalities millions of dollars to dispatch crews to unclog pipes and pumps and to replace and upgrade machinery.

The problem got so bad in this western New York community this summer that sewer officials set up traps — basket strainers in sections of pipe leading to an oft-clogged pump — to figure out which households the wipes were coming from. They mailed letters and then pleaded in person for residents to stop flushing them.

“We could walk right up, knock on the door and say, ‘Listen, this problem is coming right from your house,’” said Tom Walsh, senior project coordinator at South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts, which was dispatching crews at least once a week to clear a grinder pump that would seize up trying to shred the fibrous wipes.


Manufacturers insist wipes labeled flushable aren’t the problem, pointing instead to baby and other cleaning wipes marked as nonflushable that are often being used by adults.

“My team regularly goes sewer diving” to analyze what’s causing problems, said Trina McCormick, a senior manager at Kimberly-Clark Corp., maker of Cottonelle. “We’ve seen the majority, 90 percent in fact, are items that are not supposed to be flushed, like paper towels, feminine products or baby wipes.”

Wastewater officials agree that wipes, many of which are made from plastic, aren’t the only culprits but say their problems have escalated with the wipes market.


The wastewater industry would prefer mandatory guidelines and a say in what’s included but supports the INDA (the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry) initiatives as a start. Three major wastewater associations issued a joint statement with INDA last week to signal a desire to reach a consensus on flushability standards.

“If I’m doing the test, I’m going to throw a wipe in a bucket of water and say it has to disintegrate,” said Rob Villee, executive director of the Plainfield Area Regional Sewage Authority in New Jersey.

Nicholas Arhontes, director of facilities support services in Orange County, Calif., has an even simpler rule for what should go down the toilet.

“Only flush pee, poop and toilet paper,” he said, “because those are the only things that sanitary sewers were really designed for in the old days.”

So the next time you're looking to relax and 'sit a spell' on your inflatable toilet, just remember that not all wipes are created equal AND we must all be good stewards of our local septic systems.   

Seriously, who wants Tom Walsh, senior project coordinator at South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts, knocking on the front door in the middle of the night asking, "Hey, buddy, is THIS yours?" while holding up an oogey half-filled Ziploc bag to your face while you're standing in your PJ's with...  Your neighbors watching?  

(Feel free to paint a visual image in this open space...)

Apparently, in New York State (and others!), employees of local water districts have the ability (and time) to monitor the OUTFLOW of your home into the sewer system.  Yes, they don't have time to replace failing sewer infrastructure, but they do have time enough to siphon through your, um, you know.  

Yes, Tom Walsh KNOWS that this is your poop, don't give him any crap...

He's watching, he's waiting, and oh yes, he'll be back...

This is NOT Tom Walsh

You see, for Tom Walsh and other brave Sewage System workers across this great Nation, it's not just the dedication to the South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts which drives him / them, it's more.  

Much more.

For Tom Walsh, his work is a sacred doodie.

One question remains, for me, however:  

How long will it be, do you think, before the trusty men and women of the Sewer Districts get the order from Michelle Obama to begin analysis on the outbound 'pooh du jour' to make sure we're getting enough fiber in our diets?  And if we're NOT, will you be denied ObamaDon'tCare benefits?

All I know is that I'll be stocking up on Psyllium Fiber capsules over at the local Sam's Club.  You know, just so I can drop them into the toilet with whatever else I may be depositing in there.  Then I'll flush twice, because it's a long way to Albany / Washington from here...      

Hasta la flushta baby!


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