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The Sanpete Messenger

Cities say ‘flushable’ diapers and sanitizing wipes are clogging sewer lines

Cities say ‘flushable’ diapers and sanitizing wipes are clogging sewer lines

 

By Robert Green

Staff writer

4-9-2020

 

While going through the annual process of the cleaning out the city’s sewer systems, public works departments in both Manti and Ephraim are finding out that the flushable wipes aren’t flushable.

“They plug up everything,” said Ephraim public works director Chad Perry. “We really have a problem with them. We’re finding a lot of flushable wipes have already started to plug up our system. They don’t go down at all.”

Both the flushable wipes and hand-sanitizing wipes are wreaking havoc with the sewer system, Perry said. “They say flushable, but they plug up the grinders, plug up the pumps, plug up the main lines and plug up everything, even the laterals.”

The problem is the product may flush, but it doesn’t disintegrate, he said. The wipes are being used in much greater volume than previously due to the new coronavirus pandemic. With the toilet paper shortage, people are using flushable wipes and even paper towels instead. This practice is going to cause homeowners problems as well, Perry said.

Public works directors are trying everything they can to get the public to understand these wipes don’t work. They don’t break down in the lagoon systems, he said. There are a lot of cities trying to get them outlawed, but for right now they are acceptable.

Manti City is planning on cleaning out its sewer system next week and they are trying to get ahead of the problem by alerting residents, “no wipes in the pipes.” The city has sent out a flyer telling residents to please flush only toilet paper and human waste, nothing else, down the toilet. “If you use wipes, trash ‘em and don’t flush ‘em,” the flyer stated.

Manti City public works director Cory Hatch said he has seen more a few more wipes in his system than usual, but doesn’t have a big problem with them yet. However, problems might surface after its yearly cleaning. He encouraged residents to continue with the best practices of disposing of all wipes in the trash. A clogged up sewer system ends up costing everyone more money.