PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County leaders are sounding the alarm over a problem costing all us of hundreds of thousands of dollars — "flushable" wipes.
You may have seen "flushable" wipes in the store next to the toilet paper, but leaders on both sides of Tampa Bay say that despite the labels, the wipes are anything but flushable.
The wipes don't dissolve in water like toilet paper and it's leading to huge problems at our local water treatment plants. Pinellas County leaders shared several pictures showing massive clogs in pipes and pumps from the wipes and other non-flushable items.
“It is absolutely frustrating. I don’t think a lot of times we think about where our wastewater actually goes. It just goes down the toilet and kind of like what we think about our trash; when it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. A lot of these problems can be prevented if we just get the message out to the public that our toilets are not trash cans,” explained Shea Dunifon in Pinellas County's Utilities Department.
Wipes are also costing homeowners thousands of dollars. Sometimes, although the wipe will flush, it will get stuck in the 3-4 inch lateral pipe that connects your home to the county's sewer line. If that's the case, it is up to the homeowner to make the costly repair.
“Best thing to do: just put it in the trash,” Dunifon added.
Angela Casciato and her family have decided to switch back to ordinary toilet paper.
"I think it’s a huge problem," Casciato said. “I talked with my family and we used wipes in the past but we're back to regular toilet paper because we know it's safer and better for the environment.”