Flushable wipes may be costing Columbus Water Works customers extra money

Flushable wipes may be costing Columbus Water Works customers extra money
Published: Dec. 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Bathroom wipes marketed as "flushable" are starting to cost cities all across the country hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the problem is happening in Columbus.

Recently, crews from Columbus Water Works said they have been unclogging pipes because of these increasingly popular bathroom wipes.

John Peebles, Senior Vice President of water resource operations at Columbus Water Works, claimed the wipes may not be breaking down like they should in the system.

Peebles said, "They make their way down the sewer system to our pump, and clog our pump before they break down."

He explained that fixing the clogged pumps can end up costing the city--and the consumer--a lot of money.

"Here in Columbus, we're seeing a real increase in the number of man hours it takes to go and service these pumps." explained Peebles. "We're looking at probably over 500 man hours annually and a cost of over $100,000 a year in pulling those pumps, and repairing those pumps, and putting them back into service."

He said the city is also trying to prevent the problem.

"We've added a couple of channel boxers into our system. These are devices to cut up this type of debris to keep from clogging the pumps. We've installed two of those at a cost of $250,000," said Peebles.

The company said all of the costs can add up.

"We're looking at maybe half a million dollars this year," said Peebles.

Peebles said, "That price tag is getting passed onto customers, and could get worse if this doesn't stop."

Columbus Water Works is discussing trying to improve product labeling with several organizations to make it more obvious which products should be flushed, and which ones should not be flushed.

However, the companies who make the products are standing by the wipes, stating they are flushable.

Peebles also said some folks throw diapers and other products in toilets as well, which can cause major issues. His advice is to throw away any type of wipes, and other heavy products, in the trash. He says it will be cheaper in the long run.

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