What's in your wastewater?

Colin Powell, Castine Selectperson

March 26, 2018

Would you believe medications flushed down the toilet can actually be read in our wastewater facility? Pills do not dissolve as quickly as you may think, and that may be a good thing. While a recent event allowed a municipal employee to be able to identify a particular medication type that came through our treatment facility, the real story is that this happened at all.

Disposing of things can be tricky business. It’s not always clear what one should do with things they don’t want anymore, especially for things like controlled substances. What we can emphatically say you should NOT do, is flush things down the toilet. The Town of Castine spends a lot of resources carefully removing most waste products from the water that goes down your drains, toilets and outdoor sewers. Thus, when you introduce things into that water stream that are non-standard, the wastewater facility has to deal with it.

In this case, prescription or over-the-counter medications are a significant problem. In large urban areas, studies are beginning to discover serious issues with medications reaching our public water supplies, oceans, lakes and rivers. A few weeks ago, one of our wastewater facility employees discovered anti-seizure medications that had gone down the drain. While these pills were caught, easy dissolving pills might not have, and that medication would have joined the (mostly clean) wastewater as it is disposed of via over-board discharge into Oakum Bay.

When you’re flushing something, ask yourself, would I want to see this in Castine Harbor? If the answer is no, call Town Hall and ask for the appropriate way to dispose of your waste. In the case of medications, you can take them to the Bucksport Police Department or the Hancock County Sheriff’s office in Ellsworth. Either location will happily and safely dispose of them for free.