Wipes causing problems when flushed - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

BJWSA warns lowcountry residents about flushing wipes

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There are 500 waste water lift stations throughout both Beaufort and Jasper County. The Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority says they're out at one of the stations every week because of non-flushable wipes, like baby wipes.

A lift station acts as a buffer. It's the place where paper and tissue eventually disintegrates, before pushing the water to the waste water treatment plant.

It's also where those non-flushable items end up.

"Yeah, it will go down the pipe, but it's friable material," said Joe Devito, the director of field operations for the water and sewer authority. "It ends up clogging and hanging onto everything."   

Devito and his crew are usually out at the Heritage Lake lift station twice a week. In fact, workers were out there Wednesday morning.

"What the crew had to do today was take the check valve apart and inside there you can actually see the wipes," he said. "Those are non-flushable items. And then there are things like baby wipes, people think are flushable, but they're really not"

Devito says his crew can be out at a station for sometimes half a day trying to fix the pumps.

"We will have to remove these pumps, get the wipes out of there, and get it running again, and put it back in," he said.

 If there are too many wipes around a pump, it will break, which means they will have to buy a new one. That could cost thousands of dollars, depending on the pump and the damage.

"Ultimately, it's going to affect the bills," said Devito. "The utility bills for the people in the area may go up."

It seems harmless, but Devito and others at the water and sewer authority is asking folks to think twice before flushing.

Devito stresses, if it doesn't rip, "Don't flush!"

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