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Wipe out: Improper wipes disposal costs Bend $1,000s in repairs

Message is simple: Whatever label says, don't flush your wipes the toilet

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend is working to bring more awareness to the damage caused to its sewer collection system by the lack of proper disposal of wipes and other debris.

Personal hygiene wipes, baby wipes and cleaning wipes are just a few examples of what is commonly found clogged in the city's collectors and pumps. Flushing one wipe down the toilet can have a ripple effect, and ultimately costs the city thousands of dollars to repair equipment.

Christina Davenport, industrial pre-treatment program manager for the city of Bend, said Thursday wipes can also cause a backup in your own line if it combines with soaps or grease.

"It can cause a backup in what we call the lateral or private lines, which can cause a backup in your homes," Davenport said. "If it makes it through there, it'll enter our collections system, and our collection system goes through a lot of pumps to work with gravity to get it out to our treatment plant. What happens is, those wipes actually accumulate in the pumps, and it actually burns it out."

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The cost of a pump replacement for the city of Bend ranges from $15,000-$30,000. As a result of so many pumps being clogged, the city of Bend has started replacing the pumps with news ones that can macerate the wipes.

Davenport says in some areas, the city has replaced pumps almost twice a year. The wipes can travel all the way to the treatment plants, which affects infrastructure and ultimately costs taxpayers.

False advertisement and labeling is also something to be cautious about, when purchasing from certain manufacturers.

"Just because a wipe says that it is flushable doesn't necessarily mean that it is," Davenport said. "You really need to do research to make sure the manufacturing company labels those correctly."

Bend / Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Lifestyle / Money / News / Taxation / Top Stories
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

Comments

14 Comments

  1. It is amazing what some folks think is good to flush, especially those who have always been on a system. Years ago we had a renter who thought it was ok for the girls to flush their tampons – filled the septic tank and ruined the drain field before we found out – we had the “opportunity” to replace the drainfield.

  2. our municipal waste disposal systems are ineffective, ridiculously expensive, and an unconscionable waste of resources – rule number one: never poop in clean water – eventually, we will all have to be responsible for what we produce

  3. Sounds like the city needed better pumps and now has them? Not sure why this is news, especially when our entire sewer system is devoted to disposing of specialty industrial waste from breweries… end that and it might be news, or end using these hideously expensive stop-gap pumping stations in the first place

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