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The City of Arcata is responding to more clogged sewer lines and sewage spills from more items going down the drain that don't belong. Those items are floss, baby wipes, and products labeled as 'flushable' but do not break down enough.
"The only thing that should go down the drain is toilet paper," said Erik Lust, Wastewater Superintendent for the City of Arcata.
Lust said wastewater workers have had to respond to more clogged drains than before.
"The frequency of that has gone up dramatically. We may have to clean up pumps several times a week," said Lust.
Mark Andre, Director of Environmental Services for the City of Arcata said he has been hearing about it from city employees.
"We're just noticing and upswing in these types of materials being flushed down the toilet," said Andre.
The most recent sewage spill happened last week where 1,400 gallons of sewage escaped. Andre said if these spills are not caught they could head down street drains, toward waterways and eventually the bay.
"More often than not it goes to a surface water body, a stream, a creek," said Andre.
Every time crews respond to clogs in costs the city a thousand dollars. Spills in water ways can result in fines that could reach up to 30,000 dollars. Last weeks spill caused the bay to be closed.
Lust said this can effect local businesses. "We produce a large share of the oysters that are consumed in the state of California. the bay gets closed for harvesting," said Lust.
The environmental services department encourages anyone with questions about what belongs down the drain to call, 822-8184 and if you see a sewage spill to call the Environmental Services Department or Arcata Police after hours.