You'd think we wouldn't have to remind people to flush human wastes and throw other trash into the appropriate receptacle, but there is too much evidence that people in Porter, and surely elsewhere, are clogging the sewers.
"Everybody is now coming out with those Swiffers and mop heads and wiping materials and the claim is that these things are biodegradable, so when they see that, they flush it," said Brenda Brueckheimer, public works director for the town of Porter. "In the last three years, it has gotten worse."
There's a big difference between biodegradable and flushable.
People who don't understand that difference are putting sewer workers in danger. Thick gloves only offer so much protection.
"Unfortunately, it's a situation where no matter what kind of protection we use, when we pull a syringe out of a pump, it will prick you and it is scary," Brueckheimer said.
Flushing the wrong things is also costly.
"We are out there every day at 16 lift stations and 38 pumps, and we pull an average of four to six pumps every day to remove debris — mop heads, diapers, hygiene items, syringes — and the amount of overtime this costs, coming out at 9 at night so there isn't an overflow, is high," Brueckheimer said.
Porter's workers pull an average of 50 to 60 pounds of solid debris daily out of clogged pumps.
It's a universal problem, not limited to Porter.
"We pull rags, heavy duty wipes, syringes, even children's and adults' underwear and socks," said Wes Simon of the Portage Utility Board. "I don't know how they get it through their own plumbing."
The other question is why they flush those things in the first place. We'd like to think they simply don't know better.
So if you've flushed anything besides bodily wastes or wipes specially designed for use in toilets, consider what grief you've caused to the person at the other end of that drain.
Don't be a little stinker.
And by "little stinkers," we don't mean just toddlers fascinated by the disappearing act in those porcelain chairs. Adults who should know better need to be admonished, too.