All over the country, city and water treatment officials say those fresh wipes that are supposed to be flushable are causing sewer systems to back up, sometimes in people's homes.
Concord, North Carolina uses a truck to clear clogged sewer lines, and lately, those clogs are caused by these wipes. The package says they are flushable and that they are sewer and septic safe, but Gary Fritz says look at the evidence.
"They say they're biodegradable, they're flushable, but they're not dissolvable," Fritz said. "They're biodegrading, but after four months, and it doesn't stay in the sewer system for four months."
He's kept a flushable wipe in a jar for months, along with other things that end up in the toilet, to show the difference.
"Household toilet paper that people use, it breaks up, it goes pulpy, this has been in water for four months, see when you shake it up, this is acceptable," Fritz added. "Baby wipes, they do a great job on the baby, but they do a terrible job on our sewer system."
Concord officials say that three of Concord's twenty three pump stations have been affected by paper towels and wipes. In one instance, officials say, one pump quit working while another was operating at 60% of capacity.
"We've actually had to repair one pump station twice and the last time was about $30,000, and if the pumps shut down the sewer backs up and there were 290 homes hooked to that pump station," Fritz said.
The bottom line from Gary: Put flushable wipes in the trash, not the toilet.
"We have a landfill and the landfill is for all biodegradable material, whether it be a hotdog or a baby wipe, it needs to go into the landfill, you don't need to put it down to the toilet, the toilet is for human waste and toilet paper and that's it."
So what do the manufacturers say? A spokesman from Kimberly Clark, the maker of Cottonelle and Scott wipes said that it's possible that people are putting too much down in a single flush or that the wipes are getting caught up with other materials, such as baby wipes that aren't designed to break down.
And after extensive testing, Consumer Reports recommend bagging them and tossing them out with the trash rather than flushing.
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