PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Philadelphia Water Department has a message for residents -- stop flushing sanitizing wipes! The department says it is seeing a flood of sanitary wipes at the city's three Water Pollution Control Plants and 19 pumping stations.
The water department says by continuing to flush sanitizing wipes down the toilet, it increases the potential for clogged wipes and damaged infrastructure.
"We strongly recommend against flushing anything but toilet paper. Even wipes sold as 'flushable' often don't have the science to back up that claim, so it's a pricey gamble," Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy Hayman said. "If you use wipes for your hands or anything else, please toss them in the trash and dispose of them like you would other household waste. It may seem like a small thing, but it can have a big impact at a time when we need everyone to work together."
The wipes do not instantly dissolve like toilet paper.
Thirteen sanitary pump stations have been impacted by wipes; three combined sewer stations are being impacted by flushed wipes and discarded gloves, masks and other litter; and three stormwater stations have been impacted by litter like gloves and masks.
"Recent inspections have found that materials slowing pumps and requiring stoppages to remove clogs are primarily sanitary wipes. Plant managers are adjusting operations to account for the surge in wipes and are conducting additional machinery inspections to prevent clogged pumps when possible," the Philadelphia Water Department said in a statement.
The department is also asking residents to throw rubber gloves and masks away in the trash, because if they are discarded on the sidewalks, they can get washed into the sewer system and end up in local waterways or at treatment plants.
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