'Flushable' wipes blamed for clogging Valley sewer systems

Flushable wipes blamed for clogged sewage systems

INDIO, Calif. - Once you flush, it's out of sight, out of mind, but that's not always the case.

What isn't biodegradable piles up in the hands of wastewater professionals like Mike Lopanec at the Valley Sanitary District in Indio.

"Anything you put down the sink or toilet, we have to remove," he said.

As consumer demand for antibacterial products grows, the so-called "flushable" bathroom wet wipes, known as an alternative for toilet paper, get blamed for clogging sewage systems around the country.

Lopanec said the wipes don't break down and clear pipelines and sewers as easily as claimed.

"You can see they made it from the house to the plant and they're still in one piece," he said.

They're costing cities thousands to millions of dollars to replace machinery and dispatch crews to get the job done.

"They're a nusiance because it increases man hours, cleaning them or 'de-ragging' them is how we put it. And just the fact you have to get in there and clean up," said Lopanec.

Not only does the buildup of wipes cost the district more time and effort to clean up, it also costs users more money. The district said the more you put in the wastewater stream, the more it costs us to take it out and that goes back to the taxpayer.

"I would recommend you put them in the trash not the toilet," Lopanec said.

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