CHAZY — There could be some relief coming down the pipe for the Town of Chazy and other municipalities with cleansing-cloth crises.
Prompted by complaints from municipalities around the country — some of which have paid millions of dollars to unclog pipes and rebuild and replace machinery damaged by “flushable” wipes — the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry recently took some action.
It specified seven tests for manufacturers to use to determine which wipes to call flushable.
And products that fail the test are supposed to have a universal stick-figure, do-not-flush symbol on packaging.
“That’s good news,” Chazy Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Systems David Siskavich said. “At least someone’s looking into this. Awesome!”
Village of Champlain Mayor Greg Martin says so-called flushable wipes have attacked the pumps in the wastewater system there, too.
“They get wound around in the bottom of that motor, and it really causes some problems,” he said. “Especially at the Main Street lift station.”
Wipes don’t cause as severe a situation there as they do in Chazy, he said, thanks in large part to the “Muffin Monster” that sits in the wastewater plant.
“It’s built to chew up the larger, harder stuff,” Martin said. “But sometimes the wipes float through.”
The village hasn’t yet asked users to stop flushing the cloths, he said, but would likely include a notice in the next sewer bill.
City of Plattsburgh Department of Public Works Crew Supervisor Jim Welch is pleased to report only isolated incidents of cleansing-cloth issues.
Unlike Chazy’s, the wastewater system depends on gravity to carry the sewage to the control plant at lake level, he explained, so it doesn’t need many lift stations.
“We do have a couple of stations with grinder pumps,” he said. “These pumps don’t take too well to something that doesn’t grind up very well.”