Wet wipes pose problems at Clintonville wastewater treatment plant

Published: Aug. 17, 2017 at 7:54 PM CDT
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A number of cities across the country are having problems with their wastewater treatment plants from those so-called flushable wipes.

This includes Clintonville, where the city is attempting to raise awareness.

While Clintonville is spending millions to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, it's also facing problems maintaining equipment, from wet wipes that just don't dissolve.

We saw wipes in a big pile at the bottom of a tank during our visit Thursday.

Water/Wastewater Manager Dave Tichinel said, "First of all, they say they used to be flushables. A lot of people have gotten in the habit of just throwing them down toilets and stuff, and the problem with that is they don't disintegrate."

Removing them is also costly.

"They get caught in pumps. We have to pull them, clean the pumps out. It's just a nightmare."

As a result, the city has gone online, using its Facebook page to not only explain the problem but also post pictures of the wipes that get caught up in the system.

"The message is, don't flush these wipes down there no matter what packaging says. I don't think -- I know people aren't doing anything to intentionally hurt the system, but at the same time we need to be aware of these things that unless you want to start paying more money when stuff starts breaking," said City Administrator Sharon Eveland.

The wipes have even been the focus of past class action lawsuits.

Tichinel added, "No matter what the case is, when you buy them, anything besides toilet paper, just toss them in the garbage. I'm not here to say the companies are bad at selling their products, but they're not meant to go down the city sewer."