$10,000 clog: flushing wet wipes can wreak havoc on city pipes

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — For many people, using wet wipes is a fast and easy way to get clean; however, the Topeka Water Pollution Center said it is also a fast and easy way to spend thousands of dollars fixing the blockage they can create.

In Utah, the issue has become large enough for legislators to ask for a state wide education campaign, and one Utah pump station was charged $10,000 for the fix. The Topeka Water Pollution Center said they are seeing the same problem.

Topeka Utilities Collection System section manager, Darrin Coffland, said the Topeka Utilities Department manages more than two thousand miles of infrastructure. Therefore, the problem can happen more often than you think.

When a wet wipe is flushed, it gets caught or clogged in the pipe.

“As a whole, they do cause us problems in the infrastructure,” Coffland explained. “We have piping systems thorughout the city and county and there are imperfections in the pipe. Those products being introduced as waste into those lines can get hung up on those imperfections. It’s not just the pipe its the roots. In doing so, it builds up over time and creates blockage in the system.”

That blockage can also create thousands of dollars in repairs.

“It can cost a minimum of a thousand dollars per repair of blockage. It’s a lot of where our fees go. It’s money that’s not getting spent to keep the system renewed or improved in other places because we’re having to do other corrective maintenance on these things,” Coffland said.

Coffland urges people to be cautious of what they decide to flush down the toilet

“Manufacturers state that they’re flushable, so I’m not arguing with their labeling, but they’re not consistent across the market,” Coffland said.

Moral of the story — only flush what you know should be in the bowl.

“Being skeptical I would encourage others not to flush them if they can avoid them.”

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