By Shereen Siewert

City officials in Wausau say personal care wipes, rags and latex gloves are to blame for a sanitary sewer overflow in May, and residents are reminded to never flush such items in the future.

“Baby wipes, personal care wipes, household cleaning wipes and feminine hygiene products need to go in the trash, not the toilet,” a Wausau press release issued Wednesday states.

The sanitary sewer overflow happened May 15 in the 3100 block of Westhill Drive, when wastewater was coming out of a manhole and draining across the street.

Officials say city wastewater staff frequently removes such products from sewer mains, valves and pumps, and often resorts to calling mechanics in after hours or overnight.

“It is a dirty, time consuming and expensive job,” the press release states. “More importantly, it can flood basements with raw wastewater creating additional mess and expense for the utility, our customers, you and your neighbors.”

In the May overflow, the slope of the hill prevented basements from being affected in the area.

Language on baby wipes packaging often suggests they are flushable products, but plumbing experts say there’s no such thing. Wipes don’t break down in water, so they can clog plumbing systems and damage pipes and machinery.

City officials included the following graphic for reference.

City of Wausau graphic, June 17, 2020