The City of Logan’s Sewer Division is asking Logan Residents to be mindful of what’s being flushed.
An increased amount of garbage being flushed into local sewer systems is producing “wipe clogs,” according to a statement from the City of Logan. Paper towels or even wipes marketed as “flushable” do not break down like toilet paper and quickly clog sewer pipes.
Jared Pratt, the foreman of Logan City’s collection system, said the clogs can stall sewer pumps and require around two hours of labor to fix. Though the clogs don’t usually ruin the sewer pumps, they can cause expensive damage to homes.
Though unable to give estimates on the cost of damages, Pratt said Logan homeowners are responsible for damage to lateral sewer lines as well as backups into their own homes.
The cost is “really case to case,” Pratt said. “They can cost extremely high if the rags cause a backup that backs up into homes. Then we can get into thousands of dollars in property damage.”
Pratt said wastewater workers can locate areas in the city where high concentrations of garbage are being flushed. Depending on the location of the lateral sewer line, Pratt said workers can sometimes pinpoint specific homes.
“Most all of those homes comply and have worked really well with us,” Pratt said. “We’re seeing an uptick in all of these areas.”
According to Pratt, “ragging” problems happen frequently — it’s nothing new. But this year’s wipe clog problem seems to be heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pratt said workers began to see an uptick when more people started staying home and developing alternatives to toilet paper.
“We check these spots every month,” Pratt said, “and there’s some spots that we’re needing to clean every other week or even on a weekly basis.”
Absorbent paper towels and so-called flushable wipes cause the bulk of the problem for wastewater workers, Pratt said. Though there has been no major damage to homes yet, Pratt said he hoped education could prevent future catastrophes.
“We don’t want to be there, especially with this virus,” Pratt said. “We don’t want to displace anybody out of their home.”