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February 9, 2014

Disposable wipes causing problems for city sewer system

CLAREMORE —

City of Claremore’s Public Infrastructure Department is urging residents to help stop clogging pipes by not flushing disposable wipes and other items that are causing problems for the city’s sewer system.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls recently to go out and clean sewer lines and we’re finding that 85 to 90 percent of the back-ups that are occurring are preventable,” said Jeremy Ledbetter, department director.
Many items marketed as disposable or flushable — such as baby wipes and household cleaning products — do not degrade as quickly as toilet paper and end up clogging pipes, tangling pumps and causing sanitary sewer overflows into businesses, homes and streets, he said.
The results can be costly, not only to the business or homeowner, but also to the city, costing thousands of taxpayer dollars to repair. 
“The truth is, these household wipes and cleaning towelettes have the ability to clog and stop up not only the sewer line on your property, but also can cause blockage and service problems in Claremore’s public sewer system and lift stations,” said Charlene Lawrence, pretreatment and stormwater manager.
Ledbetter agreed: “One (city) block might stop up and cause a few problems, but once you have many blocks of this, they dump into one lift station and can create major problems that become very costly to repair.”
Bottom line: Just because the package says “flushable” does not mean it should be flushed.
“Our sewers are designed to dispose of very specific things. Using your toilet for disposal of many modern products can result in blockages,” Lawrence said. “The drains that connect your home or business to Claremore’s main sewer are only big enough to carry water, toilet paper and human waste.”
She said items not to be flushed include:
•Diapers — cloth, disposable, flushable
•Facial tissues

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