Flushable wipes clog up Spokane wastewater lines

SPOKANE, Wash.— Flushable wipes are creating a big issue for Spokane Wastewater workers. Employees said the wipes have started to clog Spokane's wastewater lines.

The wipes are designed as an alternative to toilet paper. The packaging claims the products are "flushable." But, Spokane leaders said the wipes do not dissolve like toilet paper.

"They do not break down at all," said wastewater expert Paul Nayes. "They just bind up."

They are just not simply the same, said one Spokane leader when explain the difference between the wipes and toilet paper once they reach your pipes. And that can lead to major problems where wastewater is collected.

"Well, those pumps will sometimes plug up with these things," said Nyes. "And we'll have to send a crew out sometimes at two in the morning to have to unplug one of these pumps to keep the system running correctly."

Nayes said those visits from Spokane crews are not only unplanned, they are also time consuming and expensive for taxpayers.

It is not always the wipes, though, people will often flush things like diapers and q-tips. Nayes confirmed it has become more of a problem in recent years.

"But with the arrival of these flushables, it has become more often. And typically the plugs are much greater," added Nyes.

Wasterwater workers said the same problem exists for people with septic tanks. They suggested throwing wipes in the trash.


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