Think before you flush! That’s the message in Stonington as the Water Pollution Control Authority works to finalize a fee increase for users as it is costing about $40,000 a year to unclog and repair the sewage system damaged by items that should never be flushed down the toilet.
“They’ve reached a certain age but the real problem is not the plants themselves," First Selectman Rob Simmons (R) said. "The real problem we’re encountering is what people are flushing down the toilets.”
Simmons told NBC Connecticut that some residents are not being mindful about what goes, so the fees for sewage system users need to go up.
“Disposable diapers, I got two grandchildren, disposable diapers are disposable, not in a toilet," Simmons said. "You put them in a bag and you put them out with your normal trash.”
The diapers, so-called flushable wipes and feminine hygiene products being flushed down toilets, as well as the cooking grease being dumped down kitchen drains, are doing damage to Stonington's sewage system, Simmons said.
“The pumps in our plants are failing and we have to open up the pumps and clean them out, that’s the problem," Simmons said.
Marty Jefson rents his home in the borough of Stonington, where one of the three sewage plants are located. Jefson said he is not looking forward to the higher fees.
"It's frustrating," Jefson said, "I’m disappointed, but I can only do what I can do right and be careful with the way we use it.”
He offered a suggestion for how to properly get rid of grease.
"Always keep like an empty coffee can or something like that around to pour it off in and let it solidify and then dispose of it through the trash, not into the sink or toilet,” Jefson said.
The first selectman is urging everyone to use common sense to solve this underground problem.
"There’s certain things you put down a toilet," Simmons said. "Don’t put all the other junk down the toilet.”
About a third to half of residents depend on the three sewage plants in town, Simmons said. Other homes have their own septic tanks.
The rate increase, once finalized, would go into effect on July 1.