‘Twas in the pipes…

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Twas in the Pipes (Before Christmas) is an unflushables adventure at the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District wastewater treatment plant, inspired by the Clement C. Moore classic poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, more popularly titled ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

By Amy Steger

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the pipes,
Not a blockage was found, no matter the type.
The fats, oils and greases on the counter to cool,
In hopes that the District wouldn’t find me a fool.

The (un) flushables were nestled all snug in the trash,
While dreamy visions of clear sewers appeared in a dash.
And mama with the waste bag and I tossing in funk,
Had just finished cleaning our leftovers, greases and junk.

Young multicultural couple sorting garbage while cleaning their home kitchen and recycling non-flushables.

When down at the treatment plant there arose such a clatter,
I ran from my home to see what was the matter.
On my way to the District as fast as I could,
I saw neighbors disrespecting drains, that’s not good!

The fats and garbage were in the treatment pools,
Clogging the system; someone broke the no-flush rule.
When, what to my wondering eyes did they haste,
But a Team of superheroes that came to treat waste!

Dirty Oily Pan With Cold Solid Grease Saturated Fat From Bacon After Frying Macro Closeup As Unhealthy Leftover Cleaning JobThe Kitchen Sink Is Clogged And The Water Does Not Run Down The Drain

When the Team saw the problems, they got mad and berserk,
I knew right away our community had been big jerks.
More rapid than influent, the Team worked through the night,
And they whistled and shouted and tried all they might.

“No fats, no oils, no greases called FOGs!
No wipes, paper towels or products that create clogs!
Not the drain of the sink or down the dear toilet!
Don’t flush this stuff to the sewer system or you will foil it!”

Headworks Debris ExplosionDebris Collection at Headworks

As water that’s blocked at a treatment plant goes,
When it meets with obstacles, it can back up into homes.
So, the team went to Headworks, the first stop at the plant,
To clean the UN-flushables from the screener by hand.

And then, in a trickle, I heard things settling,
The solids and sludge toward tank bottom were getting.
As I looked ahead, toward the aeration digester,
Bacteria and bugs gulped waste contaminants faster.

Person cleaning screen at HeadworksAeration Tank Water

But there floating atop the pools for processing turds,
Were gross globs of waste we call fatbergs.
These rock-like blobs made of fats and wipes,
Are strong as concrete and expensive to fight.

The Team – how they responded! Working so fast!
They found special equipment and paid lots of cash!
With rakes, shovels and vacuums with power,
They broke stuff in pieces, cleaned up chunks that were smaller.

Grease Floating in TanksCleaning the Grit Basin at Headworks

When chunks became manageable to handle and to haul,
The Team rid the blockages; but they shouldn’t have to at all.
These issues are preventable – 100 percent,
By not putting things in drains that will make a dent.

Fats, oils and grease, FOGs as we call them,
Or wipes, even those labeled flushable, clog the system.
So put your FOGs and household waste in garbage cans,
Same goes for condoms, tampons and pads.

A mass of dirty rags and unflushable wipes in a front loader extracted from Grit Basin 1.Bottles and garbage pulled from Headworks

Only flush the 3 Ps – that’s Pee, Poop and toilet Paper,
So that the flow of water in pipes doesn’t taper.
Tell your family, tell your friends what can flush and cannot,
And help stop these big problems before we may not.

Join the District in becoming a nonflushable fighter,
And thank the plant’s Teams that will pull an all-nighter.
Then, exclaim a phrase with us and recite:
“No FOGs, wipes or trash down drains and our sewer stays right!”

A Clean Home Is A Happy Home. Young Multicultural Couple In Casual Clothes Giving High Five While Cleaning Their Modern Kitchen Together

Want to read more about NONflushables? Check out 6 things to keep out of the toilet and drain on our blog.