Strangled by disposables

In California, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District crews use a three-tined handheld gardening tool to separate pump clog debris into components like these.

Every Monday and Thursday Orange County Sanitation District crews remove nondispersibles from three pump stations, a preventive maintenance task that takes two employees up to two hours to complete. This is a 200-hp, 880-rpm Fairbanks Morse 5713 with three vanes and a 24.38-inch impeller.

Senior Mechanic Gilbert Padilla pulls out stubborn materials. Labor cost for one year for 971 such preventive or corrective de-ragging actions at 10 of 15 pump stations: $320,000.

Despite extremely simplified messaging to flush only the “3 Ps” (pee, poo, and toilet paper) California’s Orange County Sanitation District routinely pulls and cleans pumps to avert sewage spills. This is a 75-hp, 880-rpm Goulds Pumps 12x14-19 with three vanes.

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