CFPUA warns of problems with wipes in the pipes


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — From babies to windows, there seems to be a wipe for just about everything. But the growing trend is becoming a growing problem, especially when it comes to so-called flushable wipes.

With a name like that you’d think the wipes are, well, flushable, but the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says that’s not the case.

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“There’s no definition actually out there for flushable,” CFPUA spokesman Mike McGill said. “These wipes were not designed to go in our sewer system.”

A system that runs through miles of pipes and pump stations. No one knows this better than pump station manager Bob Mazzeo.

“All the stations we have to clean ’cause of wipes,” Mazzeo said. “It’s just become a problem.”

Mazzeo has been working around sewers in New Hanover County for more than 20 years. He says they have had to increase the number of clean outs they do on pump stations. One dip of a pool net pulls out bunches of wipes that are almost 100 percent still intact.

“Baby wipes, personal wipes, disinfecting wipes. They just don’t break up like toilet paper,” McGill said. “You shouldn’t flush them down the toilet”

But that’s not even the worst part. Most of the wipes don’t even make it to those pump stations. A majority of them are captured, vaccuumed out by trucks from paper traps.

“We try and catch a lot of it here, and that’s why they have to deal with this site more often,” McGill said.

Every two weeks these trucks suck out the trapped paper.

“If we can’t get to them all, we might have an overflow,” McGill said.

And that’s something no one wants to happen.

CFPUA says its main message to get out is stop using your toilet as a trash can.