There is a social stigma associated with littering. If you saw someone toss an empty coffee cup on the ground in front of you, chances are, you’d find that behavior odd. But our water and wastewater professionals know a secret: the oddest things are still flushed or dumped into our waterways. Although it is a natural solvent, water is not a trash can.
Our employees across the country routinely volunteer their time to clean up waterways in their area – and you wouldn’t believe the junk that they find. A diver in Delaware found a bowling ball a couple of months back. Someone must have had a frustrating night at the bowling alley.
A group of employees recently joined hundreds of volunteers along the Connecticut River for the Source to Sea Cleanup hosted by the Connecticut River Watershed Council. They turned up dozens of propane tanks – a regular piece of litter that lurks in and pollutes our waterways. Fishing gear also frequently turns up. Tons of household garbage is dumped when no one is watching. And to top it off, huge items including a cement mixer and a junk car were also uncovered by our recent efforts on the Connecticut River.
Even more troublesome are the personal care products that show up at our waste treatment facilities or are detected by our wastewater treatment processes. Facial wipes, baby wipes and dental floss are routinely responsible for costly clogging in underground sewers; they don’t break down like toilet paper.
Prescription and over the counter medicines are frequently flushed and they end up in our streams and rivers. Fish and other aquatic animals – not prescribed to these medications – have shown adverse effects from medicines in the water.
United Water partners with www.disposemymeds.org to create convenient medical disposal programs and to raise awareness about the dangers of improper disposal.