City of Decorah Water Dept Warns, don’t flush disposable wipes

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Posted: March 17, 2020

Press Contact: Todd Ihde, City Water Superintendent, 563-382-5171

City of Decorah Water Dept Warns, don’t flush disposable wipes

Decorah, IA (March 17, 2020) – Disposable wipes have been causing problems in communities around the country and Decorah is no different. Wipes — used for changing diapers, personal hygiene, housecleaning, and more — cause major problems when flushed down toilets. Though many of these products are labeled “flushable” or “septic safe,” they are anything but.

Because they don’t break down the way toilet paper does, disposable wipes clog homeowner and municipal sewer pipes, put stress on community wastewater collection and treatment equipment, and cause cities to spend thousands on premature equipment repair and replacement. Wipes snag on any imperfection in sewer pipes, catch passing debris and grease, and create a “ball” that will grow to plug the pipe. They also get drawn into sewer-line and wastewater treatment plant pumps and clog and damage them.

In Decorah, the increased use of disposable wipes has been causing headaches for public works employees. City officials are asking “If residents use wipes for any reason please put them in the trash, DO NOT FLUSH THEM”. Pipes, lift station pumps and other equipment that process waste in wastewater treatment systems are often not capable of handling such material. If there was an overload of disposable wipes flushed into our system it could plug our lift stations causing sewers to back up in basements. Wipes tend to clog pumps in lift stations which then need to be pulled and cleared of obstructions by hand, exposing public works employees to unnecessary risks. Blockages could also cause major problems at the wastewater treatment plant including a bypass of raw sewage into the river.

For more information about disposable wipes and the problems they are causing in Decorah, please contact Todd Ihde at or phone 563-382-5171

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