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'Ugly, greasy, nasty and big': JEA explains what not to flush

JEA had to deal with a clog called a "fatberg" at one of its wastewater facilities Thursday, caused by flushing items like rags, diapers and even "flushable" wipes.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flushing anything other than human waste and toilet paper can lead to clogs at wastewater treatment facilities that can cost thousands of dollars in damage.

That's according to JEA, which had to deal with one such clog, known as a "fatberg," at its Buckman Wastewater Treatment Facility Thursday. JEA says fatbergs form when things are flushed that shouldn't be, including items like rags, diapers, dental floss, grease and even wipes labeled "flushable" and biodegradable.

"They're ugly, greasy, nasty and big," said Chris Howard, wastewater reuse treatment operations coordinator at the Buckman facility. "So big, in fact, that they can clog up the sewer system, potentially costing thousands of dollars and lots of time in repairs."

The fatberg that JEA dealt with Thursday was originally between 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. Last week, a fatberg in the Arlington area was approximately 8,000 pounds.

JEA says even wipes that say they're biodegradable should find their way to the trash instead of being flushed, because they don't break down quickly enough to keep things flowing properly through the wastewater treatment system. The only things that should be flushed are toilet paper and human waste, JEA says.

Plumbing repairs to individual customers' systems can be extremely costly, so it's a good idea to watch what goes down the drain, JEA says.

The utility says the reminder is especially important as crews concentrate on regular maintenance, other emergencies and practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. For more information what you should and shouldn't flush, visit JEA.com.

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