‘Flushable Wipes’ Bust Flush for Wastewater Treatment

Apr 7, 2020

Are flushable wipes actually flushable?

Amid the scarcity of toilet paper at grocery stores, South Coast Water District staff says they are dealing with the brunt of an increased use of “flushable” wipes.

“’Flushable’ wet wipes have gained in popularity with the lack of toilet paper and due to sophisticated marketing tactics,” SCWD public information officer Sonja Morgan said. “These wipes can clog up sewer pipes and cause sewer system pump stations to block and shut down, causing large sewer spills into our community.”

Sanitary operators, who are reportedly working longer hours due to the coronavirus crisis, now have the additional burden of finding these blockages before they can cause damage. While toilet paper dissolves readily, wipes and paper towels take much longer to dissolve if ever.

Flushable wipes clogging pipes are not a new dilemma for wastewater agencies.

“It is a problem wastewater agencies have been taking on for well over 15 years,” Morgan said. “Misleading labeling on wipes has caused widespread confusion among consumers.”

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