City pipes clogged by masks, gloves

City of HuntsvilleCrews work to remove a giant glob from a city sewer line. 

The city of Huntsville has battled foreign objects in the wastewater system for some time.

Wastewater Superintendent Stacy Lawler said the City's sewer and wastewater systems are facing new issues from clogs and pump failures. But what is causing all the issues?

Flushable wipes, while named so, are not designed to disintegrate in the city's system. But, the newest culprit is none other than latex gloves, disposable face masks, wet wipes and disinfectant wipes.

"These are not flushable items," Lawler said. "COVID-19 is causing panic and confusion for citizens as they have begun throwing items into the toilet to dispose of them. We encourage citizens to use the trash can."

Only toilet paper is designed to break apart in pipes and sewers. Toilet paper goes through extensive testing to ensure that it disintegrates as it is flushed, other products remain intact, and obstruct pipes.

"Don’t be fooled by wipes packaging claims that these products are flushable," Lawler said. "They are not. They cause a number of problems on their journey to the wastewater treatment plant. They can, and do, clog pipes causing backups in homes and neighborhoods."

Wipes and other foreign materials form giant globs in pipes and systems that tangle and damage pumps.

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