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'Flushable' Wet Wipes Wreaking Havoc On Sewer Systems

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- What people flush down the toilet is causing trouble in our sewer systems.

While it is common sense that items like clothing should not go down the drain, there are other household items you may be flushing and should not.

"We have heard loud and clear from facilities across the state that this is a problem," Greta Gauthier, legislative director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said.

Gauthier said we experience major clogs in our own backyard. The challenge for consumers is when items like baby wipes are labeled "flushable" when they should not be flushed.

"Whether they're used for cleaning, babies or personal care, our current sewer systems were not built to handle them," Gauthier said. "It costs cities a lot of money to come in and manually remove them from their equipment. Some cities have to do it every day."

It is such an expensive problem that the MPCA is seeking a ban on the word "flushable" on labels.

"What we would like to do is make the labels reflect the truth and we'd like to get it out there so that tax payers and city water rate payers aren't paying the cost to clean this up," Gauthier said.

And consumers can also do their part.

"Wipes clog pipes, and your toilet is not your trash can," Gauthier said. "So we have nothing against using the wipes, just put them in the trash."

Wipes can also snag on your home's pipes, and if there is a clog or back up, you will be on the hook to pay for any damages.

So if it isn't toilet paper -- throw it in the trash.

If you have any questions about what you can and cannot flush down the toilet, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's website.

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