Flushable wipes clog city sewer pipes in central Wisconsin
Glen Moberg, Wisconsin Public Radio A public awareness campaign is underway in Marshfield to let residents know that flushable wipes are clogging sewer pumps in the area, creating a big expense and a big headache for sanitation workers. "It's rea...
Glen Moberg, Wisconsin Public Radio
A public awareness campaign is underway in Marshfield to let residents know that flushable wipes are clogging sewer pumps in the area, creating a big expense and a big headache for sanitation workers.
“It's really kind of ugly,” said Sam Warp, Marshfield's wastewater superintendent. “(Workers) have to take the plates off the bottom of the pump, and then of course all that sewage goes on the floor then. And then they end up laying down there and reaching up into the pump, pull the rags back out - and they don't smell real good the rest of the day.”
The problem has become so bad that the city had to spend $500,000 to replace one of its lift stations, and may spend up to $2 million to upgrade the entire system.
Warp said he’s not happy with the way the “flushable wipes” have been branded.
“All ‘flushable’ really means is if you put it in the toilet and hit the lever, it'll go down,” said Warp. “It doesn't mean you should do that.”
Warp said the only thing that's really safe to flush is good old-fashioned toilet paper: “Facial tissues, it takes really weeks or months. The ones for cleaning up on babies, those type of wipes, they just don't ever break down.”
Warp said it’s not just Marshfield that has had encountered sanitation problems due to the wipes. “I mean, all the communities in the area - Plover, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau - ultimately, everybody has this problem.”
Warp said his wastewater department is launching a public awareness campaign with a catchy new slogan: “No Wipes Down the Pipes.”
“We thought that was short and sweet,” he said.
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