Wipes in the pipes vex city sewers

If people really knew where the water goes when they flush the toilet, they might be a little more careful about what they throw in it.

All sorts of junk are clogging the sewer systems. Thanks to Sauk Centre, we know of one more.

USA Today today looks at the scourge of bathroom wipes being marketed heavily by companies that insist their products break down like toilet paper.

The problem? They don’t.

“Ideally, what we’d like to see flushed down the system is just toilet paper,” Marty Sunderman, superintendent for the city of Sauk Centre, said. “When you put these type of rags down there, they don’t come apart. They just stay with it all the way to the pumps.”

The city had to vacuum out the flotsam and filled an entire truck.

Avon, Minn., has sent flyers to its residents telling them not to flush any wipes, WCCO reported last month.

It’s not just wipes. In Caledonia, Minn., they’re finding mop heads in the sewer pumps, the Caledonia Argus reported Tuesday.  Town officials speculate an area business is tossing the mops in the toilet but they can’t prove which business. The town may spend $7,000 just to install a basket to catch all the junk before it burns out a pump.

It’s not an appetizing process. Here’s a clog that was pulled out of the sanitary sewer in Edina a few years ago.

City of Edina

Other communities say their systems are clogged by dental floss, cat litter, Band-Aids, condoms, cigarette butts, and hamsters.

Tampa, Fla., recently kept track of how many non-flushable items are flushed in that city. It filled 24 dumpsters in a week, equivalent, the city said, to 400 trash cans.