May 14, 2018

Issues at Michigan Wastewater Treatment Plant Being Caused by Flushable Wipes

The Muskegon wastewater plant has been inundated with odors and major clogs

Michigan wastewater plant subject to harsh odors as a result of flushable wipe buildups

The Muskegon County wastewater treatment plant is facing several issues due to significant buildups of flushable wipes. The plant, located in Egelston Township, Mich., has dealt with many complaints of odor from many nearby residents.

The source of the issues facing the plant is likely a problem with one of the plant’s settling tanks. When working properly, aerators provide oxygen to the wastewater, which is ordinarily effective at managing resultant odors. However, due to the volume of flushable wipes present in the tank, this process is hindered.

“There are a lot of rags in that cell,” said David Johnson, director of the plant. “Clogging up the motors and causing them to work too hard and they trip out the aerators. We probably have about 14 that we could put out there, but we’ve got six working at the moment.”

The issue was first recognized by plant workers on May 7, 2018. Sludge had begun to rise to the surface of the settling tank as a result of the wipe buildup. In order to begin the process of remedying the situation, the plant is pumping further oxygenated water into the tank in order to keep the odor in check. This will only provide a temporary reprieve, however, and to entirely avoid such situations in the future the plant is at the mercy of citizens who can choose to not flush said flushable wipes.

When the issue will be entirely resolved is unsure at this time, and the price tag of such an undertaking is likely to reach approximately $1 million.