Watch what you flush: Flushable wipes causing strain on area sewage system

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – You may want to think twice before flushing those disposable wipes.

Turns out, flushable wipes put a huge strain on our area sewage system.

“Anytime things that don’t disintegrate get into our pipes or into our basins, in our system, it can wreak havoc on our system,” said Sonia Allman, spokesperson for Metro Water Services.

News 2 got a glimpse at the West Park Sewer Pumping Station.

Unlike toilet paper, most flushable wipes don’t break down.

Allman said, instead, they tear and intertwine with other materials to clog sewer pipes.

At West Park, the pumping station’s rakes operate every 15 minutes, separating wastewater from material that can’t break down.

Allman said the popularity of the products has a direct impact on the system.

“It puts additional strain on pumps, so over a period of time with the additional strain on the plants, the additional manpower, replacing moving parts that can be broken – it becomes an issue,” said Allman.

Crews haul away a truck load of material every two weeks that gets disposed at area landfills.

When you multiply that by Metro Water’s 118 sewer pumping stations, that adds up to hundreds of pounds of rags removed each day.

Some wipes make it past the pumping stations to Metro’s three wastewater treatment plants, and that’s when things can get complicated.

“We literally have to shut the basin down, drain it, and have staff members go inside the basin to manually remove the rags the wipes and all that,” said Allman.

That means added strain on the manpower, pumps, disposal, and eventually cost.

Allman said flushable wipes aren’t bad, they just need to be disposed properly in the trash.

This also applies to tissues, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products.

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