Flushable wipes ... not so much

— Did you know that flushable wipes could have an impact on your taxes?

That is what one public works superintendent is saying after twice in one week having to clear wastewater treatment pumps that had become clogged by the wipes.

“They create a lot of extra work and a lot of expense for the town,” Westport DPW head Dennie Westover said. “We have to commit three people to the job based on the regulations, one above ground and two down in the manhole to work on the pump. It’s a three- to four-hour job.”

Westover said that while the wipes are technically “flushable” and will not clog a toilet, the problems happen when the make their way through the wastewater system.

“Wipes, the wands that you are supposed to use on the toilet and then just release into the water, these are causing havoc with our pumps,” he said. “There are plastic ingredients in them and they do not break down like toilet paper does.”

At times, the clumps of wipes and other items advertised as flushable that the DPW has found in their pumps have been big enough to fill a 5-gallon pail. Clumps could lead to big problems that come with big price tags if not detected soon enough.

“We just did some upgrades on two pumps, and the cost for that was $130,000 and change,” Westover said. “That would be a huge cost if we had to replace a pump in an emergency because it was bound up by these wipes.”

The wipes can also present a septic tank problem because they do not break down.

“Basically, if it is not toilet paper, it should not go down the toilet,” he said. “You should bag it and toss it into the trash.”

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