'Flushable' wipes a nuisance for local sewer systems

May 5, 2021

Officials in Safford and Pima are asking residents to think twice before they throw so-called “flushable” baby wipes and personal hygiene wipes down the toilet.

There is just too much potential for them to cause a clog in your residential pipes, or even in main sewage and wastewater pipes, they said.

“They just don’t break down, it’s incredible,” said Morgan Seale, the water division manager for the city of Safford, “You keep flushing wet wipe after wet wipe, and pretty soon you’ll have a plug.”


Wet wipes can stick to the side of people’s drains, especially older pipes, causing clogs, and backups, in residential homes, Seale said. If they don’t get stuck there, they make their way down to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, where a slot that’s supposed to catch inorganic material in the city’s waste system sometimes fails to catch them.

When that happens the wet wipes end up in ditches and canals.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported 10,200 gallons of untreated sewage reached a creek in Silver Spring, Maryland after an estimated 160 pounds of wipes plugged a pipe.

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