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Lawmakers want Utahns to stop flushing wet wipes, pills

Posted at 7:38 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 21:56:24-05

KAYSVILLE, Utah – Lawmakers want Utahns to rethink about what’s flushed down the toilet.

Clogs at sewer plants cost taxpayers about $3 million a year. A state representative asked for $150,000 to tell Utahns that “The Toilet is Not The Trash.”

At the Central Davis Wastewater Treatment Facility in Kaysville, flushed wet wipes get caught in a grinder.

"Then it gets dropped down into the tube and it goes to the dumpster," said Central Davis Sewer District Manager Jill Jones.

That is, if the wet wipes don't get clogged in a pipe first.

"There have been numerous times that we have found pumps that have been plugged up with wet wipes,” Jones said.

Two weeks ago, a large clog was pulled out from a pump station in Farmington. Between labor and parts, it cost $10,000 to clear the pipe.

The cost goes up when the clog doesn't even make it to a city pipe.

"It can cost a homeowner $30-$40,000 if it causes a backup into a home," said Jones.

To stop people from flushing wet wipes, Representative Carl Albrecht asked an appropriations committee for money to pay for a state-wide education campaign.

"This request is a very crappy request but it is a very necessary and important one," Rep. Carl Albrecht said Monday.

Rep. Albrecht argues all wet wipes, even those labeled as “flushable,” are harmful to sewer infrastructure.

“There is not one wet wipe on the market that is biodegradable,” said Rep. Albrecht.

The Responsible Flushing Alliance disagrees, arguing flushable wipes are not part of the problem.

The group, made up of companies that make wet wipes, says baby wipes and paper towels make up the largest portion of clogging debris. Flushable wet wipes only account for up to eight percent.

Jones thinks that’s a bunch of crap.

"I say, if it's not pee, poo or paper, it should be thrown in the trash," Jones said.

The education campaign would also cover the dangers of flushing prescription drugs, which can be harmful to the environment. This year, a bill has been introduced that would make doing so a crime.