Flushable wipes causing "fatbergs" in Carlisle's sanitary sewer system

Apr 16, 2020

Many wet wipes are marketed as “flushable,” but they’re wreaking havoc on the Carlisle sanitary sewer system. The Carlisle Department of Public Works reports the borough’s system is dealing with multiple blockages due to “flushable” wipes, the problem exacerbated by a recent increase in the use of wet wipes.

As COVID-19 mitigation efforts continue, wet wipes are being used to clean and sanitize surfaces, which has led to more wipes getting flushed down toilets.

The Public Works Department has been pulling hunks of material, called “fatbergs,” out of sanitary sewer lines since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Fatbergs build when non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, enters the sewer system and binds with congealed restaurant grease or cooking fat. 

“The paper gets mixed with the grease, you got dental floss, you got hygiene products,” said Corey Flythe, the borough’s water resources manager. “It’s just a snowball effect and it gets bigger and bigger.”

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