Calgary responds to more than 7,000 sewer clogs in one year

CALGARY (UC) — Calgary, Alberta, is hoping to inform residents about the dangers of flushing single-use wipes down the toilet, as it is causing a strain for the city’s wastewater crews, CBC reported.

The city responded to more than 7,200 sewer backups in 2021, the article states, adding that most of them were caused by unflushable items. This includes wipes marketed as “flushable.” A slew of municipalities has been spreading the word that they are not actually safe to flush, as they collect in clumps and block sewer lines. Some U.S. states have even passed laws restricting companies from advertising these wipes as flushable.

"For the wastewater treatment plants and just even our collection system, they are becoming more and more of a problem," says Marissa Mitton, leader of the city's Wastewater Operations and Maintenance department, in the CBC report.

When crews respond to these backups, Mitton said "more often than not, we do find a buildup of unflushable items, including flushable wipes."

These and other items that do not disintegrate, as toilet paper is designed to do, like hair, cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, dental floss and cotton swabs, will congeal together with the help of fat, oils and grease from food waste, sometimes becoming large enough to block entire sewer lines.

CBC reports these masses can take hours to remove.

"You should only flush the three Ps: pee, paper and poo," Mitton said.

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