LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you get your water from the City of Lake Charles, you got a notice with your bill that says, "Toilets are not trash cans." It lists all the things you should not send into the city sewers.
If you do, it makes a dirty job even worse for certain city workers.
You flush it and forget it -- but when you send off items that don't belong -- they wind up at the Lake Charles wastewater treatment plant.
Plastic and latex stuff eventually clogs the system and has to be separated out with a rake, rod or even human hands.
Kevin Heise is the Lake Charles Wastewater Superintendent.
"When the wastewater pumps clog up and stop out in the conveyance system, we have to send personnel out 24 hours a day to actually pull those pumps out of the ground, out of the wet wells and remove all of the solids that are caught in them before they can be operational and actually begin pumping the wastewater again," Heise said.
Some of the employees who work here really take pride in the job they do and making sure that what leaves the plant won't hurt the environment.
Still, it's a job a lot of people wouldn't be able to handle.
Plant Technical Foreman Efron Simon admits, "It's really gross, really. But that's part of the job. We do have gloves, we have gloves and things like that we have to put on but if you don't have a strong stomach, it can really make you want to be sick."
The city has a biological treatment system which means microscopic bugs eat the waste -- but they can't consume plastic or latex items and strong chemicals and drugs can hurt the bugs. And regarding items that purport to be flushable or biodegradable, Heise said, don't believe it.
"They clog up just like a wrapper would from a candy bar," Heise said.
He said test it by pouring water on toilet paper versus a flushable wipe. The paper disintegrates; the wipe is a lot sturdier.
Items you should not flush include: Wipes, dental floss and grease or oil, feminine products, diapers, fabric dryer sheets, latex products, cloth rags, toddler toys, cough medicines or cold pills.