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Diapers, towels don’t go with the sewer flow, Placer County warns

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Diapers, wet wipes, towels and disposable dusts cloths are some of the enemies Placer County is putting on its “most unwanted” list when it comes to wastewater flows. Whether mislabeled “flushable” or not, the county’s utilities division is targeting them in a new campaign to keep them out of sewer systems. The county launched an education campaign in the summer to urge residents in the Dry Creek area of Western Placer County to stop flushing trash down the toilet. A total of 1,200 postcards were sent out and the impact was instant. Utility crews have been called to the Dry Creek lift station once since July for garbage-related problems and debris taken out is down 50 percent. Recently, utilities expanded the campaign by distributing posters in English and Spanish to businesses served by the Auburn Ravine life station, near the intersection of Auburn Ravine Road and Oak Tree Drive in Auburn. A release from the county states crews remove one to three, 5-gallon buckets of debris daily there. If a blockage occurs before flows reach a pump station, sewage tends to back up and escape from the nearest outlet. That can mean a leak like the one that occurred earlier this month near Elm Avenue and Highway 49. which sent raw sewage into Auburn Ravine Creek. The sewage had flown out of a manhole near where rags had caused a blockage. The list of items not wanted in the sewer system also includes household hazardous waste, prescription medications and syringes. For more information about free year-round disposal of household hazardous waste items, contact Placer County Environmental Engineering at 530-889-6846. – Gus Thomson