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Pump station clogs prompt Portland Water District statement: 'Flush only human waste and toilet paper'

Portland Water District News Release
Photo above: Cape Elizabeth pump clogged with wipes and dental floss (Click image to go to Portland Water District website)

The Portland Water District has been responding to an increase in materials plugging pumps and causing system failures at wastewater pump stations, most recently in Cape Elizabeth.

The district would like to remind customers to only flush human waste and toilet paper. "Don't flush wipes, they clog pipes and plug pumps," says a statement issued by the district Feb. 11, 2020.

Crews responding to alarms at a pump station in Cape Elizabeth on Saturday, Feb. 8, found both pumps at the station clogged with wipes and dental floss, with wastewater beginning to overflow out of the station and onto the ground. Crews spent the night pulling out wipes from one pump, cleaning up the damage, and getting the station back up and working. Monday they unclogged the second pump.

"For the health of our environment, the public, and wastewater workers, we'd like to remind everyone to please only flush toilet paper and human waste," the statement says.

A similar situation clogged a pump station in Gorham, this one was caused by dental floss wound up in the pump. "Dental floss is strong and can easily bind with other materials to bring pumps to a screeching standstill," the statement says.

"Not only do clogged pumps create unnecessary expenses, they also can have a negative impact on the environment and expose workers to dangerous situations."