AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — Flushable wipes are a $1 billion industry worldwide and although they are marketed as flushable, officials with Aurora Water say they are causing big problems in our sewer and wastewater systems.
“I know that they are handy to use, but they really don’t belong in our sewer system,” said Kirk Skogen, Wastewater Operations Superintendent for Aurora Water.
Skogen oversees the 1,100 miles of sewer pipes that makeup Aurora’s wastewater system. He says you shouldn’t flush the so-called flushable wipes.
“They aren’t designed to be in the toilets or in the system, they don’t break down like toilet paper,” Skogen warned.
“I don’t know why they call them flushable wipes, that’s a good question,” said Phillip Vandunk Jr., who oversees the cleanup of the sewer system for Aurora Water.
“They just don’t break down like toilet paper breaks down. They stay together and then they start to clutter up and then they collect debris and then that debris slowly and surely backs up our sewer lines and eventually causes problems for us,” Vandunk told CBS4.
One home recently had sewage back up from the main line because of flushed wipes.
“Just going through the invoices now, it’s already up to $4,000 just to get that cleaned and disinfected and mitigated,” said Kirk.
That cost, along with the cost of cleaning pumps and water treatment plants, gets passed along to residents.
“In the long run, these costs are going to go up and it’s going to reflect in the water rates and the sewer rates,” he said.
Kirk suggests the solution is simple: “No wipes in the pipes.”