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Wipes NOT Flushable!

April 15, 2020

Wipes NOT Flushable!

Article submitted by Russ Matthys, Chapter President & Public Works Director for the City of Eagan

Only flush toilet paper! Disposable wipes and paper towels need to be disposed of in the garbage. Disposable wipes and paper towels will cause problems (you don’t want to deal with) for both homeowners and Public Works staff when flushed down toilets.

Public Works staff work hard to keep Minnesota’s thousands of miles of sewer pipe, hundreds of lift stations, and millions of service connections to the sanitary sewer in good working order. However, disposable wipes are causing problems for both Public Works Departments and homeowners when flushed down toilets. Sanitary and disinfectant wipes need to be disposed of in the garbage! This is especially important to understand during the COVID-19 Pandemic when we are using a variety of disposable wipes. 

Wipes labeled as “flushable” or “septic safe” do not break down the same way as toilet paper. They clog residential and municipal sewer pipes, put stress on community wastewater collection and treatment systems, and cause premature equipment repair and replacement, which indirectly drives up utility rates. The “flushable” wipes snag on any imperfection in the sewer pipes, catching passing debris, which may create a “dam” that will grow in size and plug the pipe. The wipes and rags also render pumps in lift stations inoperable, not allowing the lift station to pump sewage away from the homes and toward the wastewater treatment plant.

“Flushable wipes can cause problems not only for the utility, with plugged pumps and pipes, but also to homeowners with sanitary sewer backups,” says Jon Eaton, APWA-MN member and Eagan Superintendent of Utilities. “Our goal is to maintain a highly functioning sewer system at the lowest possible cost to the consumer. Disposable wipes are creating an extra level of maintenance that can be avoided.” Eaton adds “please do your part and remember- don’t flush wipes down the toilet!”

For more information, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website at www.pca.state.mn.us/wipes.

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