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Water Treatment Officials Warn About Flushing Wipes

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

RickDayton Rick Dayton
Rick Dayton joined KDKA in September 2009 as a morning news anchor. ...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Water treatment plants all across the country are trying to get the message out to be very careful about what you flush down the toilet.

That’s because a popular product is creating a big-time mess.

There is a growing concern among people in the wastewater treatment community about what is going into the sewers — not only here in Pittsburgh, but all around the country.

One of the biggest culprits is facial wipes and baby wipes.

“It used to be something we only used for kids when we were changing a diaper. Now, these companies are pitching them to adults. We see commercials all the time. Everyone I know is using them. It’s becoming very popular,” Melissa Rubin with the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority said.

For the Pittsburgh Water And Sewer Authority, they are creating a big time problem. So-called flushable wipes don’t break down like toilet paper and create underground clogs that can be very costly to clear.

“You may be flushing them okay for a day or two, but eventually it is going to clog up your toilets. When it happens, it is several hours of repair and another hour or so of cleanup. It is very inconvenient, so we do recommend that if you do use these products, put them in the trash and don’t flush them down the toilet,” Rubin said.

It’s not just a homeowner problem. If they make it all the way through the system, they end up at treatment facilities like Alcosan where they have to deal with the issue.

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“We really recommend that you do not flush wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, even Kleenex. A lot of people use Kleenex to kill a bug and throw it in the toilet. If you are going to do that, use toilet paper,” Rubin said.

There are a couple of other things to be concerned about as well. Most notably, dental floss and cat litter because both of them can also cause clogged lines.

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