City officials warn against flushing wipes

FERNLEY, Nev. - As people are stopping the spread of COVID-19 it’s also causing problems for sewer systems. The City of Fernley said it had to replace the chains on its pumps because it was blocked with wipes.

Officials are encouraging people to stop flushing wipes down the toilet and to throw it in the trash.

“We understand the need for sanitizing and keeping things clean, but just be careful on what you are putting down the toilet,” said City Manager Daphne Hooper.

According to Hooper this has been a problem in the past, but in light of COVID-19 many people are using wipes to stop the spread of the virus.

Hooper said people should only flush toilet paper. "Just because they say they are flushable, doesn't mean they do not create problems in the system.”

She added, “Think of your vacuum cleaner, if you are vacuuming and you pick up a thread in the wheel of your vacuum, that's what happens to the pumps, so it wraps up and creates a rope and then it freezes the systems up."

Hooper said the city operates on a limited budget and the cost to replace the chains were $18,000. She said to replace a pump can cost between $20,000 to $75,000.

“If we get hit with something that isn’t planned for, it’s very impactful to our budget,” said Hooper.

She said the city is smaller compared to most and currently operates on a limited staff due to the virus.

“Our guys are essential workers and we are trying to rotate them through so that we don’t not expose them so they do not get sick as well,” Hooper said.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020