Elizabethton says "flushable" wipes cause sewer blockages, health hazards

John Thompson • Mar 21, 2020 at 12:02 AM

ELIZABETHTON — People are being diligent in keeping areas of their home and office extra clean as they respond to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

But with all the extra cleaning, the Elizabethton Water Resources Department said there has been a large increase in “flushable” wipes and flushing of non-flushable materials, such as baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, napkins and paper towels.

City water workers said these items do not break down like toilet paper. As a result, they clog in-home and public sewer lines very easily. These items should be deposited in the garbage.

City staffers said “any material that you flush, other than toilet paper, clumps together and then easily blocks sewer lines and clogs up pumping systems. This makes the sewer lines and pump stations overflow, potentially causing raw, untreated sewage to spill on the ground and creating a public health hazard.

“In many cases our staff must clear this material by hand. Please help us by not overloading our sewer system. We have nearly 100 miles of public sewer to take care of and numerous pump stations.

“Right now, hundreds of thousands of these wipes are being flushed. We thank you for your concern and we will do our best to keep the sewer system working during this difficult time.”

As a reminder, the following products are not flushable, and should be disposed of in the trash:

• Disinfecting wipes

• Wet wipes/baby wipes (even those labeled as “flushable” wipes)

• paper towels

• napkins

• Kleenex and other tissues
• feminine hygiene products


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