Flushable wipes have become a popular alternative to toilet paper, but their use can have unintended consequences for sanitary sewers. When these wipes are flushed, they do not break down like toilet paper does and can cause blockages in the sewer system. This can lead to expensive repairs and can also result in raw sewage spilling into the environment.
One study conducted by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection found that flushable wipes were the cause of 93% of sewer blockages in the city. The study also found that the cost of removing these blockages was over $18 million per year (NYC DEP, 2014).
In addition to causing blockages, flushable wipes can also contribute to the formation of fatbergs. Fatbergs are large masses of grease and oil that can build up in the sewer system and are often composed of a mixture of flushable wipes and grease from cooking. These fatbergs can cause blockages and lead to the release of raw sewage into the environment (Water UK, 2018).
It is important to properly dispose of flushable wipes and to properly dispose of grease by pouring it into a container and placing it in the trash, rather than pouring it down the drain. This will help to prevent blockages and protect the environment.
NYC DEP (2014). Flushable Wipes and Sanitary Sewers. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dep/downloads/pdf/planyourwork/flushable-wipes-fact-sheet.pdf
Water UK (2018). Fatbergs: The Monster in the Sewer. Retrieved from https://www.water.org.uk/water-industry/fatbergs/