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City of Jackson says flushable wipes are clogging sewers

Jackson department of public works
Jackson department of public works
Jackson department of public works
Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 14:50:54-05

JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson officials want you to watch what you’re flushing down the drain. Those flushable wipes aren’t so flushable.

They say their Department of Public Works has responded to a surge of sewer backups caused by personal care and cleaning wipes. Now, they are urging residents to not flush wipes down toilets.

According to Jackson Department of Public Works General Foreman Randy Lybarger, the wipes will catch on a small piece of the pipe and lead to big problems.

“If it’s not the small piece of the pipe it could be a root or something like that inside or some other foreign matter that’s kind of building up,” he said. “The first wipe catches and then the second wipe and pretty soon as they gather it becomes a large ball of wipes. The next thing you know the entire pipe is plugged with that ball of wipes.”

It costs up to $1,000 per trip to get sewers unclogged. It’s being paid for by your water and sewer bills.

“Obviously if you’re paying for that out of your water sewer bills, then you’re not getting other things that money could be going towards like new sewer mains or other parts of the system that could be replaced or refurbished,” said Lybarger.

The trouble spot seems to be on the city’s southeast side around East Robinson Street where crews have had to flush out one sewer line six times in the past year.

If it gets too backed up, it could cause big problems for your home.

Wipes aren’t the only the only item that crews have had to pull out of sewer lines.

“Diapers, feminine hygiene products, we’ve found clothing items,” Lybarger said. “One location just a few months ago we pulled all those orange shop towels that you see in a mechanic’s garage and so forth. We pulled 40 to 50 of those out of a sewer line plugging it up.”

“Only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed. Wipes should always be disposed of in a trash can,” said Public Works Director Mike Osborn.

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