February 07, 2023

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What should or should NOT go down the drain?


What is wastewater?
Wastewaterincludes body waste; water from bathing, showering and washing; water from washing clothes and dishes; water from washing, rinsing and otherwise preparing food; and water from normal household cleaning with household detergents and cleaners.
Stormwater is rainwater that has fallen on the ground, a building, parking or roadway, etc. and flows through ditches, storm drains, pipes, curb and gutter, etc. into streams, creeks, rivers and/or lakes.
What is a sanitary sewer?
A sanitary sewer is a publicly-maintained pipe, normally with a diameter of at least eight inches, which carries wastewater to a treatment plant.
A wastewater treatment plant uses physical, biological and chemical processes to clean and disinfect wastewater so that it can be returned to the natural environment, usually at a stream, creek or lake.
In our community, the City of Marshall Wastewater Treatment Plant on the southeast side of Industrial Road returns highly treated wastewater to the Kalamazoo River. 
The solid particles separated from wastewater are treated and converted into “biosolids” that are recycled on farmland. 
What kinds of wastes SHOULD go down the drain and into the sanitary sewer system?
The following items are normally suitable for disposal down the drain or toilet:
v      body waste and toilet paper
v      water from bathing, showering and washing
v      water from washing clothes and dishes
v      water from preparing food
v      water used in routine cleaning of floors, counters, appliances, etc. including normal-strength cleaning fluids
What kinds of wastes SHOULD NOT
go down the drain?
The following items should not go down the drain because they can damage or block your drainpipes and public sewers, can damage the wastewater treatment plant or its biological processes, could harm your septic system (if you have one) or may be hazardous for other reasons.
Ø Solid waste including food waste and other garbage, trash, debris, sand, ashes, gravel, rags, animal tissue, etc.
Ø Fats, oil and grease including motor oil, other mineral oils and vegetable oil.
Ø Gasoline, kerosene, and other fuels and substances that may explode or burn.
Ø Anti-freeze or coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid and other automotive chemicals.
Ø Chemicals used in pools, hot tubs, etc.
Ø Corrosive substances (acidic or alkaline items including those with a pH lower than 6 or higher than 10).
Ø Fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides/insecticides including those in liquid form.
Ø Metals and metal compounds including mercury, lead, etc.
Ø Medical waste including infectious waste, blood and other tissue.
Ø Poisons and hazardous waste.
Ø Medication (drugs) and various personal care products.
Ø Detergents with higher levels of phosphate than allowed under Michigan law.
Ø Packing “peanuts” made of corn starch
Ø Rainwater and stormwater including water from foundation drains, roof drains, etc.
Ø Water from a “sump pump” that gathers water in a basement, under a house, etc.
Ø Paint, stains, wood preservatives, solvents, sealants and thinners.
Ø Photographic compounds such as developing chemicals.
The list above is a summary intended to indicate types of items that should not go down the drain.
If you have questions or comments about whether something should be disposed of in the sewer system, please contact the City of Marshall Environmental Department at 269-781-3985 or cvosburg@cityofmarshall.com.

posted 06-08-2011 [Wastewater]