King County rolls out unique wastewater awareness campaign


by Heather Graf / KING 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 11:05 PM

King County's Wastewater Treatment Division is rolling out a new campaign to raise awareness about what should and shouldn't be flushed, and the catchy tune they're using is one you might recognize.

Last year, the department spent more than $120,000 just to take all of the trash that came into the treatment plant to the landfill.  That's money that ratepayers are ultimately paying, each month in their sewer bill.

"Tampon applicators, believe it or not condoms, plastics, cell phones, we see everything here," said Pam Elardo.

She's the director of the Wastewater Treatment Division and says her crews have seen it all over the years.

"We have a particular problem with disposable wipes, like the disinfectant wipes," she said.  "It'll even say 'flushable' on the package and people think it's okay to flush that in the toiler, but when they flush that, it does not break down in the system."

The treatment plant's staff has to screen every piece of garbage from the wastewater that comes in.

"Like the cooking grease people dump down the drain, it forms these balls, we get balls the size of a softball that are just grease balls," said Plant Operations Supervisor James Sagnis.  "It clogs our pumps and our equipment."

To raise awareness on this costly issue, the staff recently met with a consultant and came up with a campaign they call 'Flushing Awesome.'

The complete campaign can be found here, or at 

One of the most popular features of the campaign is a song set to the tune of Macklemore's 'Thrift Shop'.  The wastewater treatment division got permission from Macklemore, to use the tune until September.

During that time, they're hoping the lyrics and the message catch on.

"Flushing awesome is a great line," said Elardo.  "I'm going to be using that for the rest of my life!