No Wipes Down the Pipes

“Out of sight and out of mind,” was the thought that many of us grew up with and it continues today. This concept has probably led to many issues, but now a costly problem we never dreamed of. The wipes are chocking our sanitary sewer system, the pumps, screens, manholes, low points or any other area where the flow is restricted. The problem seems to be getting worse.

The disposable wipes can be grouped together from sources like baby wipes, kitchen cleaning wipes, paper towels, facial tissues, bathroom wipes, diaper liners, etc. Additionally, products like diapers, feminine hygiene products, floor cleaning wipes and assorted hand towels all add to the list. These are not meant to be flushed. The only paper product meant to be flushed is old fashion toilet paper, no matter what the manufacturer puts on the label. 

Just because a product label reads, flushable, doesn’t mean it should be flushed. Currently a product can say flushable, if it’s placed in the toilet, the lever is pushed and the wipe goes down out of sight and mind. Flushable doesn’t mean that it biodegrades or even that it breaks down into tiny particles that don’t cause problems. 

In 2013 the City of Marshfield spent $550,000 to replace a forcemain and upgrade pumps at the Lincoln Avenue lift station. In 2015 the City will spend $1,450,000 to upgrade the 8th Street and North East lift stations. That’s 2 million dollars spent to improve the collection system and handle disposable wipes. This money could have been spent dealing with other issues that we face. This will not cure the problem; it will just make the problems occur less often. The only cure is to have consumers not flush any paper products, except toilet paper. 

To get that message out to the public, the wastewater department has started a campaign labeled, “No Wipes Down the Pipes.” Working with the City of Beloit, the slogan was coined and flyers made up. The literature will be passed out, ads run, our website updated and the use of other printed media outlets. The goal is to educate the public of the very real costs that are incurred with the flushing of the wipes. We feel that an educated consumer will make better choices, especially if they know that it’s costing everyone more money each day to deal with these. The makers of the wipes are fighting back stating that they are following the laws, which are outdated. The large corporations would change their mind if they were the employees that had to lie on their back and pull rags from plugged raw sewage pumps. It would only take once for them to agree, “No Wipes Down the Pipes.”

Click here to open "No Wipes Down the Pipes" brochure.

Click below for a short video discussing issues the wipes cause at the Marshfield Wastewater Treatment Facility.