"Flushable" wipes are not as harmless as they seem

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 10:17 PM CST
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Sometimes there's a job that toilet paper just can't handle, so people reach for the next best thing: those "flushable wipes."

But that problem solver is creating an even bigger problem for the City of Laredo, and in the long run the community. The City is flushing money down the toilet because of this "lap of luxury."

"Flushable wipes" seem harmless to the average consumer, but that's not exactly the case.

"I think this past year I've already called the plumbers four or five times and every time it’s 450 bucks,” said Jesus Martinez.

Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee Member and property owner Jesus Martinez has a hole in his pocket too big to be clogged up by the wipes that got him there.

So he's taking matters into his own hands with a little disclaimer for his tenants.

"On the wall right in front of the commode, ‘please do not flush wipes.’”

Martinez isn't the only one seeing a problem with these toilet paper alternatives, but also the City of Laredo Utilities Department.

"The ‘flushable wipes,’ they say flushable because they flush down the toilet but doesn't flush out,” said Angel Leon. “It stays down there and it takes us a lot of work and a lot of money just to clean the sewer pipes because of that."

Water Collection Superintendent Angel Leon stopped by the committee meeting to show members exactly what they're dealing with… and it's not a pretty sight.

What members found more shocking wasn't the pipes filled with wipes, but what it's costing the City.

"A cost to clean a line is about $200 - $250 for labor and equipment, and we clean a pipe one time, Rancho Viejo, and it took us about a month. Yes it's very expensive, it's not cheap."

It's an outrageous amount of money for something so small and delicate, but the only way to solve the problem is picking another place to dispose those wipes.

So the next time you use a wipe remember don't throw it down the toilet, throw it in the trash.

We reached out to our viewers on our KGNS News Facebook page on whether or not you flush "Flushable wipes." The poll shows that 75 do flush them down the toilet and 158 don't.

Thanks to everyone who participated!