The wet wipes, used as a substitute for toilet paper and for a thousand other things, have become a real plague for the sewers of large cities. The immense ball that they form, mixed with filth, has clogged the collectors of New York, London, Madrid or Saint Sebastian. In Valencia, the mass of waste exceeded three kilometers in length and the City Council had to spend more than eight million euros to extract 5,000 tons of stinking amalgam.
In two years, 1.6 kilometers have been cleared and currently the "last 150 meters of the most complicated stopper in the entire route of the collector, measuring five meters wide by 2.4 meters high, is being cleaned", explains Jesús Cenicero , engineer of the Service of the Integral Cycle of the Water of the Valencian municipality. "With this performance, which we will finish within a month, we will have reasonable collector working conditions." The rest of the clean-up – another kilometer to be cleared for clearing – will go out to tender because it is not so urgent.
The situation two years ago in Valencia was emergency in the north collector -which collects 60% of the wastewater generated by the capital-, after the stopper of wipes, cotton sticks and other waste, triggered the risk of spillage from faecal waters to the old bed of the Turia river. Now everything is channeled but the councilor of the Integral Hydraulic Cycle, Vicent Sarrià, has requested a loan of 160 million euros to the European Investment Bank to renovate the urban sanitation network in the next 15 years, and some 12 million euros will be allocated to the modernization of the northern collector.
"Because of the news we have, the case of Valencia is the most difficult we know because we had 3.5 kilometers of cork, we have already extracted some 5,000 tons of dirt and there were 2,000 more to be extracted." In London, two years ago, they were 130 tons and affected 100 meters of collector, "recalls Cenicero.
The message from the Valencian City Council to this non-biodegradable pest is unequivocal: "The waste has to go to the proper containers, the toilet is neither a container nor a wastebasket and everything that is thrown into the toilet must be biologically degradable," he stresses. the municipal engineer.
The indiscriminate use of wipes in Spanish homes has been joined by the age of the collector stuck in Valencia. "The wipes are a very heavy material that the water does not drag in normal conditions, in the case of Valencia, we have unitary collectors, which collect the wastewater and the rainwater that, when it is torrential, drains the waste from the collectors and deposits at the end, which is where it causes problems to the collector ", continues the municipal technician.
The forecast is now favorable. "We have been working for two years and now, in a month, we will clean those 150 meters more complicated because of their difficult access and we can end the emergency situation by dumping the old river bed, and from there we will have the rest, which we will tender because it is an urgent matter but not emergent ", concludes the technician.