Tuesday, June 08, 2021 - 8:30 AM

World Ocean Day

aerial view of the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility showing effluent pathways and digestor tanks

The Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility is a primary treatment plant that treats wastewater – from sinks, toilets and drains - in the City of St. John’s, City of Mount Pearl and Town of Paradise.
 
Every day 135 million litres of wastewater is treated at Riverhead where the primary treatment process removes 30-40% of organic material, 50-80% of suspended solids and up to 99.5% of all fecal coliform. All of the removed material adds up over time.
 
Since the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility became operational in 2009, approximately 15,000 tonnes of solid waste have been diverted from being discharged into St. John's Harbour and the ocean.

That's about 120 tonnes per month – enough to fit in 15 garbage trucks!
 
World Ocean Day
On this World Ocean Day we'd like you to think about where your wastewater goes and how it is treated before reaches the ocean. Have you ever considered whether the things you are rinsing or flushing down the drain belong in the garbage?
 
Items such as flushable wipes, dental floss, leftover grease and food, q-tips and feminine hygiene products should never be rinsed down the sink or flushed down the drain. These types of materials do not breakdown quickly and can cause clogged pipes at your house, in the street or at the treatment plant. 
 
In addition to clogged pipes, these materials can also cause expensive breakdowns of equipment at the treatment plant.  It takes a lot of time and money to repair failed equipment.
 
Flushable or not?
One of the main items that can cause problems are “flushable wipes”.  It’s natural to think items labelled ‘flushable’ can indeed be flushed in the toilet. However, the term flushable means the items will pass through the toilet but it does not mean they should go in the toilet. Flushable wipes do not break down like toilet paper that is designed to disintegrate quickly.
 
Flushing solid items can also have an impact on your household pipes. They can get caught in household pipes and result in sewer backups into your home or your neighbours. This is a problem for everyone involved including City staff who repair it.
 
The simple solution? Use your garbage bins for all waste other than the three P's – pee, poo and (toilet) paper!