“Please, just flush toilet paper,” said Rockport Public Works Director Mike Donoho.

Individuals flushing other items down the toilet, including so-called “flushable” wipes, are causing serious damage to the pumps in the city’s waste water system.

“It’s an ongoing problem, especially since so many people are now using the flushable wipes,” said Donoho.

The problem is those “flushable wipes”, as well as everything else that is not specifically toilet paper (i.e. - facial tissue, napkins, paper towels, diapers, hair, cotton balls, dental floss) is causing problems.

In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head locally, Rockport Mayor Patrick Rios wrote in a letter to the community, “The ONLY item, other than bodily waste, that should be flushed down the toilet is toilet paper.  For those on septic systems or RVs, you should be using the appropriate toilet paper for your system.

“While there are some brands of wipes that say they are ‘flushable,’ the truth of the matter is they do not degrade properly and can clog pipes and get tangled in the waste water pumps.”

This is not just a local issue, it’s occurring across the country.

“All these items get tangled up in the pumps located in the lift stations and burn them out,” said Donoho. “Then there is a whole system of pumps at the wastewater treatment plant (if the things that shouldn’t be flushed) get through the lift station pumps.”

He said it makes it hard for the system to work.

In addition to the extra manpower it takes to clean the lift stations and unclog the pumps, when a pump burns out it costs utility customers upwards of $10,000.

During the July 4 weekend a Code Red alert was sent out to Key Allegro property owners because too many things were being flushed down toilets that shouldn’t have been flushed.

The city had numerous problems with lift stations on the island that weekend, and has continuing problems with multiple lift stations throughout the system, all due to people flushing things down toilets that shouldn’t be flushed down toilets.

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