Flushing money down the drain

Published 3:41 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Flushable wipes cost Saluda over $36k in last three months

SALUDA – Flushable wipes are becoming a real problem for the City of Saluda and city officials are urging residents to stop using them.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Monday, July 10 and heard from city manager Jonathan Cannon, who said the city has had to replace nine water pumps in the last three months at a cost of approximately $36,000.

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“We’ve spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on pumps,” Cannon said. “The culprit is flushable wipes. They are flushable, be we can’t deal with them.”

The city has sent out email blasts and posted on Facebook urging customers to stop using the wipes.

Cannon said the city also plans to go door to door asking people to please stop using the wipes.

“They are costing our citizens thousands and thousands of dollars,” Cannon said.

He also said the city is looking at different types of pumps that may be able to handle the wipes, but in general, every time he calls different cities to see what types of pumps they use, they all agree they are having the same problem and haven’t found a solution.

“I just can’t stress enough the problems we are having with these special wipes,” Cannon said.

An email blast sent out last week from Saluda said, “Attention!!! Flushable wipes have cause [sic] the City $36,000.00 in repairs in the last 3 months. Please do not flush these or other items EVEN IF IT SAYS FLUSHABLE!!!”

Cannon said the cost is actually more than $36,000 over the past three months. He said he added up that number fairly quickly and since the weekend the city has had more costs, and those costs don’t include employees working overtime to install new pumps. Cannon also said the costs are higher than they would normally be to replace pumps because the city is having to buy them overnight in an emergency situation, which means each pump is running about $6,000.

Cannon explained that the pumps suck up the flushable wipe and it can’t grind it like toilet paper so it burns up the pump.