Science Club visits Cotton Valley Water Treatment Centre.
In Thursday lunchtime’s Science Club, students have been investigating whether flushable toilet wipes really are as disposable as standard toilet paper. They’ve been conducting their own investigations in school and discovering how difficult it is to tear and break down flushable wipes, unlike paper which simply disintegrates in water.
To find out how much of an impact these wipes have on the environment, the co-curricular club organised a field trip to Cotton Valley Water Treatment Centre in Milton Keynes to see first-hand how our water is purified and hear what experts have to say on the issue.
There, Water Recycling Manager Tim Hilsdon explained that as much as £7 million is spent a year on unblocking sewers with high pressure jets. Fats, oils and greases entering the sewer via the kitchen sink stick to wet wipes and cause blockages. Wipes, he said, simply don’t break down in water. Along with other detritus larger than 6mm, they have to be removed and go on to landfill – a staggering 15 tonnes of rags and plastics are removed from the site on a weekly basis.
Students explored the site to get a first-hand overview of the different stages of the sewage treatment process. With their findings, along with further classroom experiments, they hope to put together a project to submit to The Big Bang. If it is accepted they will be offered a stall to showcase their research at The Big Bang Fair in March 2018.