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Don’t flush shoes down toilet, Tennessee water resources head advises staff

By   /   December 11, 2013  /   No Comments

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee official most responsible for maintaining the quality of the state’s water and public works systems has to remind her own employees how to use a toilet.

That includes a warning they’re not supposed to flush their shoes down the commode.

Sandra K. Dudley, director of the Water Resources Division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, sent an email Thursday warning employees about the perils of flushing a variety of not toilet-friendly objects while using the facilities at the department’s main offices in downtown Nashville, at the Tennessee Tower.

Photo by Chris Butler and Misty Hughes McKeithen

SHOES: Not disposable in a toilet.

“We appreciate the nice restroom facilities and don’t want to do anything that could prompt a shutdown!” Dudley said in what seemed a matter-of-fact email, in which she made the following suggestions:

  • “Minimize the amount of toilet paper placed in our low-flow toilets.”
  • “Dispose of personal hygiene products in provided receptacles, not in the toilets (do not be misled by box labels such as ‘safe for septic tanks’; these products wreak havoc at our customers’ wastewater treatment plants in addition to clogging our plumbing here)”
  •  “Also dispose of paper towels, wipes, ink pens, paper clips, old shoes, and other trash in garbage receptacles, not in the toilets.”

In the email, Dudley said that comments from building maintenance staff about the restrooms prompted the message, although she didn’t elaborate on just what those comments were.

So who’s been flushing their Nikes down the crapper?

TDEC spokeswoman Shannon Ashford told Tennessee Watchdog Tuesday that Dudley wrote the email because her employees occupy new offices.

DUDLEY: Watch what you flush.

“We have recently moved into a new space and we are still learning what the building systems can handle,” Ashford said.

“While these type of issues are not unique to their floor, Sandra’s intent was to remind staff that in a new space with more people on each floor, there is less room for thoughtless actions. The reference to shoes was a lighthearted statement that she used to convey the message to employees.”

According to the TDEC website, Dudley has a Ph.D. in engineering from Tennessee Technological University.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Chris Butler