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Sanitation crews warn of flushing sanitizing wipes

Posted at 10:58 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 22:58:47-04

WAYLAND, Mich. — City officials fear sanitizing wipes will clog sewer systems, as people use them to disinfect their homes during the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

Many sanitizing wipe containers advertise that the product is flushable. While wipes typically don't clog home systems, they can cause major problems at the city's lift stations and pumps.

"This problem has been plaguing us for a couple years now with an introduction of new products," said Ben Bachelder, Water and Sewer Superintendent for the City of Wayland. "If you are using sanitizing wipes, please do not flush them down the drain. If you are forced to use alternate forms of hygiene, we ask that you put it in a bag and throw it out through the garbage, so it can go to a sanitary landfill."

With many using the wipes more than usual during the outbreak, crews worry people won't heed the warning. It will mean sanitation crews will have to clean the pumps more often or at the very worst, replace existing pumps.

"This has been a continuing problem. So I'm always worried about it, but now that the situation has changed, yes, it's escalaed my level of concern," said Bachelder.

If the case that a pump needs to be replaced, it costs $18,000 each. In Wayland, there are 7 pumps located throughout the city.

The warning doesn't just go for disinfecting wipes but any sort of wipe including baby wipes or make-up wipes. Other items that can clog the pumps include: sanitary products, floss and paper towels.