Oct 17, 2018

Wipes Cause Massive Clog in South Carolina Water System

Divers swam into 90 ft of raw sewage to remove wipes from a Charleston, S.C., sewer

Divers swam into 90 ft of raw sewage to remove wipes from a Charleston, S.C., sewer
Divers swam into 90 ft of raw sewage to remove wipes from a Charleston, S.C., sewer

The Charleston (S.C.) Water System sent scuba divers down approximately 90 ft into raw sewage to pull out wipes that clogged the system. The Charleston Water System shared tweets on Monday from the project to clean the wipes from the sewer system.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the water system said on Twitter, “You know wipes clog pipes, right? If not, baby wipes clogged a series of large pumps at our Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday afternoon.”

According to another tweet, the system sent divers 80 to 90 ft into the raw sewage to search with their hands to find and identify the obstruction.

“As we expected, they came up with these large masses of wipes in their first two loads, with more to come,” the water system said in the tweet.

The utility found a baseball and a large piece of metal, as well. “The photo looking down into a pool of wastewater shows many other non-flushables,” it said in another tweet. “We made this pic low-res for your benefit.”

According to the Idaho Statesman, wet wipes have caused problems for sewer systems around the world. In 2015, the New York Times reported that water and sewer officials in New York had to spend $18 million dollars over five years just on wet-wipe sewer problems.

According to the Daily Mail, the U.K.’s environmental minister said he wanted to ban wet wipes earlier this year. The sewer in the U.K. overflows into the Thames River has left mounds of wet wipes in the river as it flows through London. 

The Sydney, Australia Water Authority won a $700,000 penalty from an Australian company that marketed wet wipes as “flushable” but still clogged the sewer system, according to Sydney Water. According to Sydney Water, it removes 500 tons of wet wipes from its sewer system every year.

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