Proper disposal of personal hygiene wipes

Thursday, January 12, 2017 1:56:00 PM

Baby wipes, other personal hygiene wipes and pet waste bags are solid waste and they should be disposed of with other refuse taken to a landfill.

Some wipes and bags are labeled “flushable.” However, we have not found wipes or bags which break down into small pieces when they are put in water (or into a sewer).

In contrast, toilet paper normally breaks down to tiny particles after about 20 seconds in water.

We therefore ask our customers not to flush wipes and pet waste bags, including those marked “flushable.” Why?

  • Wipes and bags may cause blockages and back-ups in your plumbing drains, and/or may cause blockages in and overflows from our sewer system. 
  • Wipes and bags also may clog OWASA's wastewater pumps. (We pump wastewater uphill at various places in the community to get the wastewater into a sewer that operates with the simple force of gravity. We avoid using pumps where possible in our sewer system to avoid the costs and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from electricity use, the costs of maintaining, repairing and replacing pumps periodically and the potential for pump failure in some conditions.)
  • When wipes and bags go through our sewer system and reach our Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant, the wipes, bags and other solid items must be caught with a special screen so that they will not clog our treatment processes. Removing these solid items has a cost, including fees for solid waste disposal in a landfill.

For more information on how to dispose of various items, please click here.

For more information  

John Kiviniemi, Manager of Wastewater Treatment and Biosolids Recycling, 919-537-4352 or jkiviniemi@owasa.org

Randy Horton, Manager of Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Systems, 919-537-4280 or rhorton@owasa.org