Oh, crap: wet wipes causing damage to sewer, septic systems

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For many, using a wet wipe is a fast and easy way to get clean; however, plumbers say clearing clogged sewers and drains can often cost thousands of dollars. The issue is so bad in Utah, legislators are considering a new campaign to educate the public on the issue.

At the Central Davis Wastewater Treatment Facility in Kaysville, Utah, flushed wet wipes get caught here. That is, if they don’t get clogged in a pipe first.

“There have been numerous times that we have found pumps that have been plugged up with wet wipes,” said Jill S. Jones of the Central Davis Sewer District.

Two weeks ago, this wad of waste was pulled out from a pump station in Farmington. The price to fix it? $10,000.

The cost goes way up when the clog doesn’t even make it to a city pipe.

“It can cost a homeowner $30-$40,000 if it causes a backup into a home,” Jones said.

To stop people from flushing wet wipes, Representative Carl Albrecht asked an appropriations committee for money to pay for a state-wide education campaign.

“This request is a very crappy request but it is a very necessary and important one,” Albrecht said.

He argues all wet wipes, even those labeled as “flushable,” are harmful to sewer infrastructure.

“There is not one wet wipe on the market that is biodegradable,” Albrecht said.

The Responsible Flushing Alliance disagrees, arguing flushable wipes are not part of the problem. The group, made up of the companies manufacturing wet wipes, says that paper towels make up the largest portion of clogging debris. Flushable wet-wipes only account for up to 8 percent.

But Jill Jones thinks that’s a bunch of crap.

“I say if it’s not pee, poo or paper it should be thrown in the trash,” Jones said.

             
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