Among the many topics in the Town of Ossining Supervisor's latest regular email updates to citizens was the unsavory one of sewage.
Susanne Donnelly wrote:
While sewers are not a very glamorous topic of conversation, we’d like to share some information about a problem you can help us with in the Town. Among their many responsibilities, our Highway Department is charged with maintaining our sewer lines. More and more frequently, it seems, we have backups and traditional methods of clearing the pipes are insufficient and we need to bring in an outside firm with bigger machinery. The flushing of baby wipes has proven to be one of the biggest contributors to this ongoing problem, and has only increased with the recent commercial success of “disinfecting” wipes. These blockages are not only costly to remedy, but also takes your Highway/DPW staff away from working on other important issues.
This is not a problem unique to Ossining of course, as witnessed in this nation-trotting article on USA Today. Unlike much of the advertising for these product promises, these disposable wipes are not really, experts say.
They don’t break down like toilet paper, causing major headaches—clogged pipes, cleaning efforts and costs—for municipalities across the nation.
“Public works managers say the problem has worsened in recent years because more such products are available on the market and consumer demand for antibacterial products is growing,” the USA today article states.
'Out of sight out of mind' may be the attitude of many when flushing the toilet but this attitude only works when things...work. When our sewer systems malfunction you know it.
Many municipalities are urging their citizens to throw out—not flush—wipes. Some are pushing for more honest ‘don’t flush’ labeling.
Pat Shea, public services director in St. Cloud, Minn., told USA Today people just don’t realize this is an issue, but education will help.
"They just think once it's out the door, it's fine," Shea said. "It's usually just a matter of education. People don't know it's causing problems."