TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

'Flushable' wipes blamed for sewer clogs

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

BEMUS POINT, N.Y. — Bathroom wipes — pre-moistened towelettes that are often advertised as flushable — are being blamed for clogs and backups in sewer systems around the nation.

Wastewater authorities say wipes may go down the toilet, but even many labeled flushable aren't breaking down in the sewer system. That's costing some municipalities millions of dollars to unclog pipes and pumps and to replace and upgrade machinery.

The problem got so bad in this western New York community this summer that sewer officials set up traps to figure out which households the wipes were coming from. They mailed letters and then pleaded in person for residents to stop flushing them.

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies, which represents 300 wastewater agencies, says it has been hearing complaints from sewer systems for about the past four years.

A trade group says wipes are a $6 billion-a-year industry, with sales expected to grow at a rate of 6 percent annually for the next five years.

Manufacturers insist wipes labeled flushable aren't the problem, pointing instead to wipes marked as nonflushable.

Wastewater officials agree that wipes aren't the only culprits but say their problems have escalated with the wipes market.

The problem got worldwide attention in July when London sewer officials reported removing a 15-ton “bus-sized lump” of wrongly flushed grease and wet wipes, dubbed the “fatberg.”

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, the trade group known as INDA, recently revised voluntary guidelines and specified seven tests for manufacturers to use to determine which wipes to call flushable.

The wastewater industry would prefer mandatory guidelines but supports the INDA initiatives as a start.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Obama administration delays decision on Keystone XL pipeline
  2. SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
  3. Judge strikes down Minnesota’s anti-coal law as unconstitutional
  4. Colorado deaths stoke marijuana worries
  5. Iranian envoy officially blocked by law
  6. Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead, audit finds
  7. Records exonerate ‘X-Men’ director, attorney says
  8. Grandmother left vengeful note in boys’ slayings, then committed suicide, police say
  9. Wyatt Earp gun sells for $225K at auction
  10. Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
  11. Android systems running 4.1.1 softward carry Heartbleed bug
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.