Mt. Laurel MUA warns residents against using ‘flushable wipes’

MUA officials say the wipes are responsible for more wastewater emergencies in recent years.

Mt. Laurel residents shouldn’t rush to flush when it comes to allegedly “flushable” wipes.

The Mt. Laurel Municipal Utilities Authority is asking residents to help preserve the health of the township’s sewer system by only flushing toilet paper down their toilets.

According to MUA officials in a recent statement on Facebook, wastewater emergencies for the township have increased tenfold in the past decade, which MUA officials say coincides with the public’s increased use of “flushable” wipes.

Yet MUA officials say the wipes are anything but flushable, as the wipes act differently than normal toilet paper when flushed down a toilet.

While toilet paper is designed to break down once in a wastewater system, MUA officials say “flushable” wipes do not break down in the same way.

Instead, MUA officials say MUA employees must remove the wipes as part of the water treatment process, including many instances in which MUA employees have to remove the wipes by hand.

“We need your help,” officials said in a statement directed toward members of the pubic. “Manufacturers of disposable wipes label their products as ‘flushable’ and have spent hundreds of millions in advertising dollars convincing us of that. What they don’t tell us is that these products do not break down when they enter our sewer systems.”

MUA officials point to the self-proclaimed “flushable wipes” as being responsible for an incident in late May where pumps became clogged at the MUA’s Larchmont pump station (located at the intersection of Hartford and Union Mill roads), which rendered the station completely non-operational.

As MUA officials repaired with the clogged pumps, officials say sewage flow was inadvertently redirected into an older sanitary sewer pipe at Hartford Road.

According to MUA officials at the time of the incident, the old sewer piping was left in place to serve as a backup to the MUA’s newer Hartford Road sanitary sewer force main replacement project that was installed in 2017.

Yet as sewage flow was redirected to the decommissioned force main, it began to leak, which forced the MUA to immediately close Hartford road to traffic.

“The MUA recognizes the inconvenience and regrets the continued closure of Hartford Road as we resolve sewer issues like these,” MUA officials said in their Facebook statement.

With that in mind, MUA officials said additional work is scheduled for the Larchmont pump station, along with long-term plans to replacement additional force main sections in the adjacent section of Hartford Road.

In the meantime, MUA officials ask residents to avoid using flushable wipes.

“Please help us by only flushing toilet paper down your toilets,” MUA officials said in their statement.