‘Flushable’ wipes and rags can cause massive clogs. Wastewater system administrators urge you to flush only toilet paper

Mar 20, 2020

In sewer maintainer parlance, they’re called “rag masses” or “slugs.”

Weighing up to 30 pounds, the waste-infused wads are made up mainly of “flushable” wipes, along with rags and other stuff that never should have been flushed. When these clumps run into pumps that push wastewater to treatment plants, the resulting clogs can take hours to free and the expense can be significant.

In South Windsor, the dirty job of removing the blockages falls to a small crew overseen by wastewater treatment Supervisor Jeff LeMay. Normally, LeMay said, crews encounter one or two clogged pumps in a week, but there’s been a steep increase recently during the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the difficulty of finding toilet paper. On Tuesday, crews had to work the entire day to unclog four of the system’s 11 pumps, he said.

LeMay and other wastewater system administrators are urging people to flush only “the three P’s: poop, pee and paper,” and that last means only toilet paper.

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