Robbinsdale: Flushing “Flushable” Wipes a No-No
In any residential neighborhood, what happens behind closed doors is generally a private matter. But in the most private room in the house, people are making a mistake that’s become a public problem.
“You’ve got sanitary wipes for adults that are using them now, so then, they get flushed cause nobody wants to look at them in their garbage can and stuff ,” said Joel Konkol, Robbinsdale’s utilities supervisor.
Konkol says so-called “flushable” wipes don’t break down like toilet paper, so when you combine them with hair and other items, they can cause blockages in the sewer main line.
“One catches and then they start to build up,” Konkol said. “And they intertwine, and they just stop everything from going through.”
Much of the problem, according to Konkol, stems from the labeling on the products. For starters, they’re branded as “flushable,” and some even have illustrations showing that they’re safe to flush down a toilet.
“Unfortunately there’s some manufacturers who are lying, or they’re not accurate,” Konkol said. “They just don’t break down.”
Konkol argues that if you trust the labels, you could end up with a basement full of raw sewage.
“They can plug up your own line, just out of your house,” he said. “Or if they get out in the system and cause a stoppage somewhere down the line, and it does back up, you might be the house that gets it. Or your neighbor.”
City officials recently posted a picture on the Robbinsdale Facebook page, showing the intertwined mess created in the sewer by these wipes.
They’re hoping the message resonates with residents.
“You can use the products, just don’t flush them down the toilet,” Konkol said.
Representatives of the industry behind wet wipes say that people are flushing items that never claimed to be flushable, such as cheap baby wipes, which are meant to be bundled in disposable diapers and thrown in the trash.