Jacksonville’s public utility is partnering with a multinational corporation to tackle the problem of sewer lines being damaged by people flushing the wrong things down the toilet.
JEA and Kimberly-Clark Monday announced a joint campaign aimed at keeping people from flushing wipes, paper towels, and other hygiene products. But the focus will be baby wipes, which pose the biggest challenge to the utility’s sewer system.
“Baby wipes are made with plastic because you want a little stronger wipe, obviously, when you’re using them for what they’re intended versus the flushable which has a standard, where they break apart in the system,” said JEA Vice President Deryle Calhoun.
JEA’s sewer system is not designed to handle anything that is not completely biodegradable.
According to a joint study done in March by Kimberly-Clark and JEA, baby wipes made up nearly 40% of non-flushable materials found in one of JEA’s pumping stations. Less than 1% of those were flushable wipes.
Calhoun said he thinks that’s people who aren’t educated on the issue buy baby wipes that are cheap, without understanding the implications of what they are buying.
“So the campaign is really about educating folks. If you need to use baby wipes, which has those plastic fibers, please put them in a solid waste disposal can,” he said. “And if you are going to flush something, make sure it’s flushable.”
The month-long social media campaign, which is being financed by Kimberly-Clark, will urge residents to use flushable wipes. Kimberly-Clark will also get to advertise the company’s cottonelle flushable wipes during the campaign.
Although JEA partnered with Kimberly-Clark, other manufacturers also make flushable wipes.
Consumers should check the packaging of whatever brand of wipes they choose to buy to see if the wipes are flush-friendly for sewage systems.
Clogged pumps cost taxpayers about $200,000 a year, according to the study.