Lewes Leaders Urging Residents to Stop Flushing Handi Wipes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lewes Leaders Urging Residents to Stop Flushing Handi Wipes

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General Manager for Lewes BPW, Darrin Gordon, showed WBOC the problem at Station 4 in Lewes (Source: WBOC) General Manager for Lewes BPW, Darrin Gordon, showed WBOC the problem at Station 4 in Lewes (Source: WBOC)
The fibers can clog the pumps, as seen in this pump discharge valve in Lewes (Source: Darrin Gordon) The fibers can clog the pumps, as seen in this pump discharge valve in Lewes (Source: Darrin Gordon)

LEWES, Del. - The Lewes Board of Public Works is urging neighbors to not flush non-disposable wipes like Handi Wipes down the toilet, saying that this is causing major damage to the sewer system. Town leaders told WBOC that these wipes can actually cause thousands of dollars of damage. 

Darrin Gordon, the general manager for the Lewes BPW, joined WBOC at Station 4 in Lewes to show the scope of the damage. 

"This is the main pump," said Gordon. "Inside of that is an impeller that's metal, that's spinning very fast to help move the water. The problem is when those wipes get in there and touch it, it will end up gumming it up."

Gordon said that staff has started to see these wipes turn up more often. Gordon estimates this has boosted maintenance costs by about 5 percent, equivalent to approximately $10,000. 

Gordon said the repairs are also time-consuming. The most recent maintenance work took approximately two hours, according to Gordon. 

"This is actually about 15 feet underground," he said of the station. "We need to use scaffolding to get in here. And we have to have safety equipment. We have to have all the equipment. It's dangerous, it's difficult work, and it's timely work."

Gordon said that this is not a problem unique to Lewes. 

"It's a national problem," he said. "All through the United States. There's been campaigns out. The American Water Works Association. They've done their very best to advertise this. To talk about it. To invite people to please don't flush them down the toilet." 

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