Downs: Don’t Flush Wipes Down The Drain

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The pandemic is making an existing problem worse in municipalities throughout the country, and according to mayor-elect Don Downs, Hillsboro is no exception.

“Even before the pandemic,” a Bloomberg story by Gerald Porter Jr. published last month begins, “Americans were already flushing far too many wipes into the sewer system.  After a year of staying at home, the pipe-clogging problem has gotten worse.”

Bloomberg points out areas around the country including in Des Moines, IA, where sewer backups are up 50 percent due to flushing wipes, which don’t break down in water like toilet paper.  In Charleston, SC, crews report about two clogs per month at pump stations before the pandemic; that number is up to an average of 16 clogs per month.

“With consumers cleaning everything from counters to doorknobs in hopes of thwarting the coronavirus, sanitary wipes are more popular than ever,” the Bloomberg story reported.  “In the 12 months through late January, their sales surged 75 percent, according to data from Nielsen. But the blockages they create when flushed–dubbed fatbergs–have become a costly headache.”

Downs said the city wastewater system is designed to get people’s waste to the treatment plant, and not backed up in someone’s basement because of a clog.

“We have also been dealing with this ongoing issue in Hillsboro as well,” Downs said, “which has ultimately led to unwanted expenditures.  Repairs to damaged lift station pumps often lead to the total replacement of these pumps as well.”

The solution is simple: make sure wipes, grease and other things that don’t belong down the drain end up in the trash and not in the toilet.

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