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Utility Officials Say Wipes Pose Sewer Threat

Courtesy of the Sacramento Area Sewer District

Courtesy of the Sacramento Area Sewer District

Sacramento utility officials say a common household item has the potential to create havoc on local sewer lines.

So-called flushable wipes have reportedly clogged sewer systems in cities throughout the country, including Davis, San Jose, Portland, New York and in Australia.

"We're definitely paying attention to the types of things that are going on nationally and internationally as a result of flushable wipes," says Nicole Coleman with the Sacramento Area Sewer District. The agency maintains 4,400 miles of underground pipeline in the Sacramento region.

Coleman explains wet wipes advertised as flushable don't break down the same way that toilet paper does. "The best way to prevent sewer problems due to flushable wipes," says Coleman, "is to keep them out of the sewer system completely. In fact, to keep the sewer system running smoothly only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed."

A trade group for companies making wipes says the problem is people are flushing non-flushable wipes. Manufacturers say wipes marketed as flushable are safe for sewer and septic systems.


Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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