‘Flushable’ wipes are a messy, expensive environmental problem

SEATTLE -- Personal wipes: we use them all over the house, car, and garage. We use them on the go, but when we get rid of them, it's causing big problems.

Massive pipe clogs, broken sewer pumps, and toxic sewer overflows sometimes. It's hard to calculate exactly how it's costing homeowners and renters in the forms of higher water bills -- but it could easily be in the millions for cities and public works departments all across the country.

In Seattle, it costs the city thousands upon thousands of staff hours to deal with this problem. Three or four times every month, crews have to respond to pumps that have stopped working. When they can't get to them in time, it can lead to some big problems.

This summer, a large sewage spill in Puget Sound was attributed to so-called "flushable" wipes, according to Seattle Public Utilities, closing some area beaches for days.

Q13 went deep underground to get a closer look at this messy stinky problem. We also wanted to find out more from state lawmakers on what they're doing to keep these kinds of spills from happening again. Q13's Tim Joyce takes a deep dive into the problem of flushable and other personal wipes.

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