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EMWD Encourages Customers to Be ‘Sewer Smart’ With Medications, Hygiene Products Disposal

Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is asking customers to be “Sewer Smart” and do their part in properly disposing of medicines and personal hygiene products by not flushing them down the toilet or drains and into the sewer system.

By responsibly limiting what is placed into the sewer system, EMWD customers can limit blockages within the wastewater collection system and treatment plants and help protect water quality. Blockages can be costly to repair, pose public health risks and, if they result in a sewer spill, may carry administrative penalties from regulatory agencies.

Unused medications should be returned to a participating pharmacy that can properly dispose of the medications or through a National Take Back program sponsored by a local law enforcement agency, such as the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department or Hemet Police Department. Customers may also use a drug disposal pouch that can be obtained through a local pharmacy or from Eastern Municipal Water District’s Main Office during normal business hours.

The pouches are designed to deactivate pill, liquid and patch medications so they can then be disposed of within the household waste.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also provides steps to making your own at-home drug disposal pouch. Without crushing tablets or capsules, simply mix your medications with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds; place the mixture in a sealable zip-top plastic bag; and throw the sealed bag away in your household trash.

In addition to medications, customers are asked to avoid flushing wet wipes, cotton swabs, cotton balls and other non-biodegradable hygiene products into the sewer system.

Many brands of personal wet wipes have packaging that describes them as “flushable” but the wipes are not biodegradable and remain completely intact for many years when submerged in water. The wipes can clog wastewater collection systems and damage filters at wastewater treatment plants, causing potentially costly repairs to facilities.

“By not placing medications and hygiene products into the sewer system, customers can help us keep costs low and protect the environment,” EMWD President David Slawson said. “Small steps that customers take have the ability to make the biggest impact and benefit us all. We appreciate the work of our customers in properly disposing of these items.”

EMWD is the freshwater, wastewater service and recycled water provider to a 555-square mile area from Moreno Valley southward along the I-215 corridor to Temecula and eastward to Hemet and San Jacinto. Approximately 816,000 people live and work in this area. In addition to its own water customers, EMWD supplements water to six local water agencies and municipalities that have their own water departments. EMWD operates four water reclamation facilities and treats some 46 million gallons of wastewater daily. More information can be found at