Don’t Flush It!

Monday, April 10, 2017
Don’t Flush It!

Did you know that flushable wipes aren’t really flushable?

The product wreaks havoc on wastewater treatment systems, including the Town of Hillsborough's. In November, the town banned the flushing of flushable wipes, along with several items, including any type of paper product other than toilet paper.

“The biggest problem with flushable wipes is that they don’t break down,” Assistant Utilities Director Will Baker said. “If you take toilet paper and run it under a stream of water, it breaks down immediately. These wipes don’t break down. In the sewer system, they cling onto things and things cling onto them. That creates a backup. They clog up pumps and motors at pump stations nationwide.”

The amendment banning flushable wipes from the wastewater system also bans any type of personal hygiene product, including tampons, sanitary napkins, wipes and towelettes as well as a variety of other items like threads and fabrics, glues, dyes and what most would consider trash — plastic bags, cans and building debris. The amendment language refers to the publicly owned treatment works by the acronym POTW.

Grease is the second major offender to the town's wastewater treatment system. Together, grease and flushable wipes cause 90 percent of the blockages in pipes and pump stations.

“Eventually, it costs customers more money because we have to go in and clean out the pump stations more frequently,” Baker said.

Ultimately, folks should remember that toilets and the wastewater treatment system are for human waste and toilet paper only.

“If there’s a doubt, throw it out,” Baker said. “Don’t flush it.” 

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