This article is brought to you in partnership with Charlotte Water. All opinions are our own.
#PipesHateWipes. Expect to see that message throughout Charlotte in the coming weeks. A campaign designed to bring awareness to the growing problem of so-called “flushable” wipes harming the Charlotte pipe system, #PipesHateWipes features two hilarious characters.
As you can see from the above video, Pipe and Wipe have taken advantage of the coming election year to spread their competing messages across the radio waves. It’s a funny ad, but the damage done to Charlotte’s wastewater system by flushing away disposable wipes is no laughing matter.
The high cost of flushing
Sure, flushable wipes sound nice and are marketed well, but they wreak havoc on pipe systems. Roughly 40 percent of last year’s 164 sanitary sewer overflows were caused by debris like wipes that do not break down in the pipes in the same way as toilet paper. Each of those overflows cost Charlotte Water thousands of dollars to repair, but that’s just the tip of this horrible sewage iceberg.
In reality, problems with the city’s sewage pipes cost way more than the face value of their repairs. You have to factor in extended workers’ hours, possible health hazards, increased pumping to flush out the pipes and the stress that happens to an otherwise smooth-running system when a blockage or overflow occurs.
Wipes and marketability
Some of the blame for this serious problem has to fall on the way that “flushable” wipes are marketed. “A lot of things are flushable,” explained project lead Louise Bhavnani. “Your kid’s Lego man, your wedding ring… Just because a wipe is marketed as flushable doesn’t mean it belongs in the pipes.”
On the other hand, marketing for wipes often emphasizes their strength compared to traditional toilet paper. Understandably, people prefer stronger wipes that make it easier to stay hygienic. The problem is that wipes are often too strong and do not dissolve in the pipe system. Add in a bit of other debris and grease, and you have a recipe for a pipe disaster.
Take it from Pipe and Wipe: Either stick to toilet paper, or put your wipes in the trash.
For more information about Charlotte Water’s #PipesHateWipes campaign, click here.