Flushed wipes cause Charleston Water System backup

Local News

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Workers at the Charleston Water System Plum Island Facility had their hands full over the weekend when the system was clogged by a massive amount of wipes.

“It took a few days for us to get divers in here to actually dive down about 80 feet into raw sewage with their bare hands and feel around in total darkness,” said Mike Saia, Communications Manager, Charleston Water System.

Those divers found mounds and mounds of flushed wipes. They clogged the system and caused a huge backup. While the system is clear now, there are still wipes around the facility from the overflow.

“They might do a lot of damage inside your home to your plumbing. They definitely do a lot of damage when they make their way through our infrastructure,” said Saia.

When a wipe disappears down a toilet, so does your money. Maintenance is tied into your water rate and it costs a lot to clean messes like this. 

One of the divers says going down into the wells is a big task.

“When you get down to the bottom, you can’t see anything, everything is done by feel,” said diver John Lares. 

It’s a lot of trouble that can be prevented by just throwing your wipes away.

“Hopefully with some new construction improvements we have here and some community education, we can get people to throw less and less wipes down into the toilet,” Saia said.

When it comes down to it, only two things are supposed to be flushed down your toilet: human waste and toilet paper.

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