Flushable Wipes Clogging Pipes | Detroit June 03, 2017 18:56

As most readers know, many towns and cities across the U.S. - and world for that matter - have a wet wipe problem on their hands; The same goes for Detroit where flushable wipes clogging pipes and pumps at wastewater treatment facilities are costing both taxpayers and the environment.

Using a wet wipe for best hygiene after a trip to the bathroom is understandable. We all want that fresh, confident clean, but the truth is, many wipes that are marketed as "flushable" do not break apart after being flushed.

When this occurs, you get flushable wipes clogging pipes and the Detroit area is no exception.

In Detroit, there are flushable wipes clogging pipes from "ragging."  

Ragging occurs when the screens and pumps that are part of the equipment involved in wastewater and sewage processing become clogged-up with so-called flushable wipes that are not breaking apart like their manufacturers claim.

Just because an item can be physically flushed away and out of sight, does not mean that it is "flushable," right?

Flushed items also need to be biodegradable in a fairly short period of time. In other words, they need to break apart after being flushed - like toilet paper does - or else you get "flushable" wipes clogging pipes.

Flushable Wipes Clogging Pipes in Detroit

In the Detroit area city of Fraser, Michigan, a sinkhole developed in December 2016 resulting in the collapse of a sewer line.  As a result a temporary sewer-bypass needed to be created and sewage had to be pumped up 60 feet and then pumped back down into the underground sewer line to make its way to the sewage treatment plant.

It has been reported that this sewer line collapse condemned three houses and prompted officials to urge more than 500,000 residents and tens of thousands of businesses to curb water use for months.

The ragging of wipes - that should NOT have been flushed down the toilet in the first place - caused a serious burden to the sewer-bypass such that pumps became burned out.

In order to prevent ongoing equipment damage, the screens had to be cleared of wipes and other debris every one to two hours instead of about every 18 hours on a non-rainy day.

In the case of the Fraser sewer-bypass, officials discussed whether they should install a cutter on the pump to try to prevent ragging costing taxpayers an additional $5-million for the repair project, from $70-million to $75-million.

Because ragging has become so serious, the Detroit Public Works Commissioner is planning a public education effort on the issue with public service announcements, direct discussions with municipalities and a flyer included in water and sewer bills.

The metro Detroit Public Works Commissioner, along with wastewater officials across the world, are urging people to only flush toilet paper, pee and poo, nothing else.

However, we believe a big part of the problem of flushable wipes clogging pipes in Detroit, and elsewhere, is that public works and wastewater treatment officials Do Not Offer a Viable Wet Wipe Alternative to People Who Use Bathroom Wet Wipes!

For example, the Detroit Public Works Commissioner was quoted as saying, "People have to understand the impact of this...If they can just throw it in the trash and not down the toilet."

Say what? She is asking people to keep the equivalent of a diaper pail in their bathrooms?

How many people are inclined to follow this advice?  

Do you believe the Commissioner has a waste basket of used wet wipes next to her toilet?

To make matters worse, in the same article cited above, the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash agreed.

Does Mr. Nash have a trash can full of used wet wipes near his toilet?

Maybe Mr. Nash just uses plain ol' dry TP and foregoes the improved hygiene of a moist or wet wipe after Number 2?

Detroit Flushable Wipes Clogging Pipes - Videos

Public education videos have become an increasingly common means of informing the public about this issue.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department made a short video in 2014 discussing the flushable wipes problem and the damage these products can cause.  

Unfortunately, the video does not offer an alternative to baby wipes for adults and advises users of these products to throw them in the trash can...Seriously?

Last year, Oakland County officials also made a more entertaing, two-minute public service announcement to educate people about not flushing wipes and other items down the toilet.

The Oakland County video is more entertaining, and it mentions "bathroom wipes" but does not offer an alternative to people who are wiping with flushing wipes after using the toilet...just the same old "Throw it in the garbage."

MSNBC has even put out a highly produced and informative 5 minute video discussing the problem of "flushable" wipes clogging pipes in New York City, but alas, once again, no wet wipe alternative.  :-(   We have also posted on the problems caused by wet wipes for adults in New York City.

Flushable Cipes Clogging Pipes Anonymously

In the anonymous and private environment of a bathroom, who is going to know if wipes are being flushed?  

In this case, wet wipes are out of sight, out of mind.  It is not like throwing garbage out a car window for the world to see.

Actually, it is hard to believe some of the items that have been flushed down the toilet because no one knows where it came from or who did it.

People need to understand AND CARE ABOUT what can occur when items other than TP, poo and pee are flushed.


Etiquette's *Fanny Clean* is an organic-based wet wipe alternative at the ready for great hygiene and skin care "down there."

wet wipe alternative