‘Can’t Flush This' Campaign Aims to Protect Starkville’s Sewage System

Customers can prevent clogs, avoid costly plumbing problems by following these tips

Ever wonder what would happen if the pipes in your neighborhood carrying wastewater from toilets, sinks, showers and washing machines backed up into your home? Starkville Utilities wants you to.

With several multi-million-dollar upgrades being made to Starkville’s sewage infrastructure, the utility is asking customers to help protect the system—and their homes—with the launch of its Can’t Flush This campaign. The goal is to increase awareness about what can be safely flushed down toilets or disposed of in drains, as well as materials that should never come in contact with plumbing systems.

“It’s alarming how many things people put in their drains or try to flush down their toilets without realizing the problems it is causing,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “With our Can’t Flush This campaign, we want to promote healthy plumbing practices that will not only protect the city’s system but also help customers avoid costly plumbing repairs and inconvenience.”

In the weeks ahead, Starkville Utilities will share helpful tips via its website, social media, bill inserts and public presentations encouraging residents to do their part to prevent clogs, backups, and other costly repairs that affect the city’s s collection system as well as homes and businesses.

At the top of the Can’t Flush This list are wet wipes—yes, even those that say “flushable.. When these items are flushed down toilets, they enter Starkville’s sewer system and mix with grease, oil and other substances that have been inappropriately discarded in sinks.

The mix creates a phenomenon called “fatbergs” (a combination of “fat” and “iceberg”)—masses of congealed grease and personal hygiene products that can cling to the insides of pipes and sewers and cause clogs, sewage back-ups and service disruptions.

“Many materials frequently flushed or poured down the drain can clog the pipes that connect to city sewers as well as the city sewer system,” said Kemp. “Every property owner connected to the city sewer system can be a potential contributor to sewer problems, and a potential victim of those problems.”

Basically, the only things that should be flushed down toilets are the three Ps: pee, poo, and paper – toilet paper, that is. Citizens should never pour fats, oils and grease down sinks; instead, put cooled cooking grease in sealed containers and dispose it correctly.

To help ensure that pipes remain clog-free, businesses and homes are asked to keep handy this Can’t Flush This list and make sure these items never enter Starkville’s sewer system:

  • “Flushable” wipes
  • Disposable diapers
  • Paper towels
  • Cooking grease, oils, fats
  • Tampons and tampon applicators
  • Mini or maxi pads, panty liners
  • Condoms
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Dental floss
  • Cat litter
  • Food
  • Fish
  • Hair
  • Gum
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Facial tissue
  • Contact lenses
  • Bandages and wrappings
  • Automotive fluids
  • Paint, solvents, sealants, thinners
  • Poisons and hazardous waste
  • Pet poop
"Anyone who uses the city sewer collection system should be responsible for what they flush or pour down drains,” said Kemp. “Together, we can keep our sewage system operating reliably and safely while protecting our environment for years to come."

Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville