Flushable Wipes Clogging Sewer System

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

DELHI TWP. (WILX)-- Walk down the toilet paper aisle in any grocery store and you're bound to see "flushable wipes." But they're not as flushable as you'd like to think.

The wipes are clogging up sewer systems all over the nation, and the Delhi Township Waste and Water Treatment Plant is no exception. For years, hundreds of wipes have been clogging Delhi Township sewers every day. It's causing a big, stinky, and frustrating problem for the people who have to clean it up.

"They're not really disposable. We dispose of them for you here at the plant," said Sandra Diorka, Director of Public Services.

It may say it's dispersible on the packaging, but it's not says Diorka.

"From studies that we have done in our industry we know that they don't disperse. No matter what it says on the packaging," said Diorka.

The wipes are getting clogged in the collection system, the pump systems, and the pipes.
Maintenance crews were spending three to four hours a day cleaning out the wipes that had gotten caught in the machinery.

"They get tight, and wound up in there. Then you have to cut them out, and pull them out piece by piece," said Jim Lenon, Maintenance Supervisor.

Lenon said the plant had tried grinding up the wipes, but they were so durable that it only made them longer.

The problem got so bad that the Township spent $2.5 million dollars to improve their facility last year. The bar screen that was previously 2 inches wide, has been reduced to 3 millimeters. The main purpose is to catch as many wipes as possible. The system now catches between 300-400 lbs. of wipes every day.

"They're everywhere and they're indestructible," said Lenon.

But the new screen doesn't help with what's getting clogged up in the system close to home. The pump stations, collection systems, and sewers in-between the toilet and the treatment plant are still riddled with wipes every day.

"At least now we aren't spending all our time cleaning up the rags. We're excited that our maintenance team gets to work on actual mechanical issues now." said Diorka.

The only solution is to throw the wipes away, not flush them down the toilet.

"I know it's icky and kinda disgusting, but someone has to take them out and put them in the garbage for you later," said Diorka.

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