Workflow Evansville

Don’t Flush “Disposable” Wipes, Throw Them in the Trash

January 14, 2022 - Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) reminds customers to never dispose of wipes in the toilet. That goes for disposable and flushable wipes in addition to disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, and personal wipes. Some wipes are labeled “disposal” and “flushable,” but they do not break down in sewers before reaching the city’s two wastewater treatment plants.

“Just because a wipe disappears down the toilet doesn’t mean that it’s gone. Someone else has to deal with it somewhere in the system,” said EWSU Engineering Director Joseph Sloan.

Wipes can get caught on small breaks and sharp edges inside a sewer lateral that connects plumbing from a building to the city’s sewer main. As a result, the wipes can build up over time as more become snagged in the pipe. “If you happen to pour grease from cooking down the drain and it coats the wipes, the debris can keep growing until it becomes a large blockage in the sewer line,” said Sloan.

EWSU crews pull one or two pumps a week from lift stations throughout the city for cleaning. Lift stations pump raw sewage to the wastewater treatment plants for processing before treated water is released into the Ohio River.

Sloan said lift stations are often clogged with disposable wipes and rags caught in the pumping mechanism, presenting an extra challenge for utility workers. Pumps must be pulled from the lift station with a crane, and the debris must be manually removed by hand.

Lift stations clogged with wipes can cause sewer overflows and sewage to back up in some homes and businesses - especially those with a basement or ground floor level with the utility sewer line. Sewer backups can result in costly repairs for the Utility and private property owners.

If the material gets to the public sewer main, it can impact other property owners down the line. Wipes and debris that reach the wastewater treatment plants are removed from sewage during the treatment process and taken to the landfill.

EWSU customers are urged to flush only toilet paper to help ensure toilets, private plumbing, home septic systems, and the city’s sewer system continue to work correctly. If you must use wipes, throw them in the trash.

Click here for more information on what is and is not flushable. 

Don't Flush Wipes Down the Toilet

Watch this video for more information about disposable wipes: