St. Pete: Toss your trash, don't flush it

- If you're in the habit of flushing things like dental floss, old contacts, wet wipes, or even a piece of chewing gum, officials say you're causing a problem for everyone else.

What you put in the toilet could be causing your water sewer fees to go up.

Wastewater workers in St. Petersburg spend thousands of dollars to properly get rid of stuff that's flushed but should be in the trash. Screens catch the plastics, wood, paper and other items, and then dump it into bins for the landfill. 

"[We pull out] hundreds of tons from all the systems and the treatment plant over the course of the year," said Ken Wise, the chief operator for the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility. 

That stuff can't be burned, so Wise said they pay extra to bury it at a landfill, costing taxpayers more money. 

"All of that adds to the costs that we have to charge for the stormwater, sewer fees, water fees; It causes all of that to go up," said Wise. 

The city's sewer system is old and the facilities it connects to are now under construction. 

"We in the city are in the process of doing $300 million worth of work to the system to make sure it works right. But everyone in this city can do something right now," said Bill Logan, the communications manager for St. Petersburg Public Works. 

That includes dumping trash in the can and not the toilet.  

"And two, when you're cooking don't let oils and grease go into that sewer system," said Logan. "This is going to be a continuing effort on our part to let people know what they can do individually as citizens to help the whole system work."

It seems like common sense, but only toilet paper should be flushed. Not even products that say flushable should go down the drain. If you live in St. Petersburg, you will see your water rates go up this fall to help pay for updates to the system.

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