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West Palm Beach sewers clogged by influx of flushable wipes, paper towels, grease

Five additional crews deployed to fix issues
Posted at 2:48 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 18:37:06-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The city of West Palm Beach is dealing with a messy and stinky sewage problem.

The city invited Contact 5 to watch as crews cleaned out a sewer blockage Friday morning along Gregory Road in the south end of the city.

RELATED: Port St. Lucie sees increase in wipes entering sewer system

Leighton Walker, the assistant director of Public Utilities for the City of West Palm Beach, says the culprits include flushable wipes, which are not biodegradable, paper towels, grease and other materials.

“We’re seeing more issues with grease in our system, so want to remind them to put that grease in the trash can, not down the sinks,” Walker said. “Our sewer systems are not trash cans; toilets are not trash cans. They’re just designed for tissue and bodily waste.”

Pictures shared with Contact 5 by the city show the extent of the problem including backups and blockages, which they say could lead to public health and environmental hazards.


As a result, Walker tells Contact 5 that the city has now deployed five additional crews to maintain and clean the system.

“Only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilets. This will save you and also the utility in the efforts we have to spend to clean and maintain our system,” Walker said.

A national utilities association estimates flushable wipes cost utilities about a billion dollars a year, much of that is your tax dollars.

RELATED: COVID-19 pandemic leading to big plumbing problems