April 13 2020

DPW Reminds Residents Not to Flush Wipes After Sewage Backs Up Into Peoples’ Homes

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Department of Public Works is once again pleading with residents not to flush disinfectant, hand or baby wipes down the toilet and report multiple incidents of sewage backing up into residents’ homes. 


DPW Director John Sanchez said the wipes, which are durable, will build up in the sewer line and cause a blockage. Sometimes the block is reinforced by grease that people have poured down their drains causing a hard substance to form inside the pipe. 


“If those wipes plug the line and they clump together until they block the entire line and when they do that the sewer backs up into people’s basements,” he said. “We’ve had this happen in areas of town where we’ve never had this type of issue before. It’s a combination of everyone being at home and also everyone cleaning more than usual.” 


The other issue, Sanchez explained, is that the wipes can get caught up in the pumps at the sewer stations and cause them to stall out. When this happens a back-up will engage but then crew members have to completely take the pump apart to fix it. 


“It is a gross job,” he said. “It’s not a clean process at all and totally unnecessary.”


So, bottom line, the DPW is asking that no wipes get flushed even if the packaging says they can be disposed of that way.  


“This stuff does not biodegrade in the sewer,” Sanchez said. “Even though the label says they are flushable they are not - they are tough and very hard. Just put them in the trash, that is where they belong, and hopefully that will take care of it.”



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