In response to concerns expressed by the Murfreesboro Water Resources Department (MWRD), we are asking citizens to properly dispose of disinfectant wipes, paper towels, baby wipes, and all other products that are damaging to our sanitary wastewater piping and treatment systems.
It’s important to note that although these products are labeled to be “flushable” they do not stand a chance within our sewer systems. Flushing these products are almost equivalent to flushing a handkerchief or other item made of cloth; they simply do not disintegrate in our system and otherwise clog our pipes and pumps, cost residents lots of money in maintenance repairs, and cause increased difficulties for plant operations.
According to BBC.com, no ‘flushable’ wipes currently sold in stores have not passed water industry tests thus far. Regular toilet paper disintegrates more effectively, but due to the current outbreak of COVID-19, stores are experiencing extreme shortages in toilet paper and consumers are resulting to wipes, paper towels, and other disposable products as an alternative.
“Our sewer pumping stations are one of the downstream ends of the gravity systems and are the most susceptible to blockages from wipes and other materials because that’s where they gather. These blockages can cause sanitary sewer overflows onto roadways, private property and streams,” says Jimmy Stacey, Wastewater Operations Manager
“We’ve had technicians working long hours on our Thompson Lane station trying to unclog the pumps before they cause an overflow upstream. It’s important for the public to properly dispose of these items as solid waste.”
MWRD is doing its best to inform customers of the potential harm these products cause to the City’s sewer systems, and they’re encouraging customers to stay safe, but do so by ‘ignoring the hype and not flushing wipes.’
Here are a few things you should know:
- Paper towels consistently make up the largest portion of debris found on wastewater system filter screens accounting for almost 50%.
- Many brands of wipes are made from substances like cotton or plastic.
- Packaging for disposable wipes often have warnings - either text saying "do not flush" or a picture of a toilet crossed out. But it is displayed on the back of the packet in small print.
- As an alternative to baby wipes, some parents use cotton or bamboo wipes that can be washed and re-used.
In some cases, these materials contain tiny plastic fibers that can bypass filters and go on to have an even greater environmental impact, ending up in our rivers and streams. MWRD takes pride in being a supplier of products and services that are vital and foundational to our quality of life, we recognize and embrace our responsibility and role in sustaining our community and its environment.
For more information, contact Jimmy Stacey or the Murfreesboro Water Resources and Recovery Facility at 615-893-1223.