AWWA and the Water Environment Federation recently teamed up to create a new children's activity - Pipe Up! - a series of puzzles to help children learn various aspects of water services and the value they bring to our everyday lives.
One of the puzzles - The Unflushables - focuses on teaching kids about what does and doesn't go down the toilet. Here is its description:
"Think it might be fun to send your stuffed toy on an adventure in toilet land? Think again! Except for water, the only things you can safely flush are the 3 P’s — Poo, Pee and Paper. Toilet paper, that is—not your math homework!"
This puzzle highlights a real problem that is currently plaguing our water systems - things being flushed down the toilet or going down the drain that don’t belong there.
We have written about the 'fatbergs' that have plagued the London area, but we just read about one that recently took over the Baltimore sewer system. This fatberg was described by The Baltimore Sun as "a gigantic glob of congealed fat and wet wipes". The blockage caused the sewer system to overflow, which sent 1.2 million gallons of waste into Jones Falls, a local waterway.
Once fats, oils and greases and wet wipes go down the drain or are flushed, there is no way for them to be broken down, so they absolutely must go in the trash. And that goes for the “flushable” wipes too, which aren’t really flushable. An administrator with Baltimore's pollution control program said it best: “We can’t treat our toilets like our trash cans.”
To learn more about what doesn't get flushed or put down the drain, visit our Caring For Pipes page. And check out our Kid’s Place for more ideas and resources to teach kids about water, our water services and the value of water.