Used needles are becoming a problem in La Crosse’s wastewater treatment plant.
Workers spend mornings sifting through debris, removing items that don’t belong. Garbage in one thing, but the used needles are putting workers’ safety at risk.
“They’re in danger,” treatment plant director Jared Greeno said. “They find them stuck in their boots, and they find them stuck to their waders. We have Kevlar gloves and steel soled boots for our employees to keep them protected.”
The city has made it a point the couple years to add drop boxes around the city for people to dispose of used needles.
And, while the needles are dangerous, other items, like those “flushable” wipes, are also becoming quite the nuisance, though it may not be residents’ faults.
“We screen out six yards of that material weekly,” Greeno said. “That’s a small dump truckload of stuff that shouldn’t have been flushed. Things like cue tips and hair, but disposable wipes are a big problem right now.”
“They’re advertised as disposable, flushable, biodegradable, but they’re none of the above,” Greeno said. “They don’t break down like toilet paper would”
The wipes are continuing to clog up the station pumps on the way to the treatment plant.
All the trash puts a lot of stress on the equipment, which can create quite the impact over time.