The City of Steubenville Wastewater Department is starting a public information and education program called FLUSH AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!. The purpose of the program is to inform and educate the people in our city about the risks of using and flushing down toilets items that do not break down (non-dispersible items) when flushed down the toilet. Non-dispersible items clog toilets, household plumbing, and city sewer lines when flushed down the toilet, which can lead to serious illness, loss of personal belongings, property damage, and contamination of rivers, creeks, and streams. Some examples of non-dispersible items that people flush down a toilet are baby wipes, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and feminine use products. While many of these items claim to be flushable or safe for sewer and septic they will not break down like toilet paper when flushed down a toilet. The only things that should ever be flushed down a toilet are bodily fluids, feces, and toilet paper (an easy way to remember this is “pee, poop, puke, and toilet paper”); anything else may result in the clogging of household plumbing or the city’s sewer lines.

Please look at the picture of the homeowners lateral below to see what can happen over time to the plumbing where you live when “flushable wipes” are flushed down the toilet. In this case, the “flushable wipes” filled nearly the entire length of the line that carries the sewage from the house to the city’s sewer a little at a time over a few years; clearly, the “flushable wipes” never broke down like toilet paper. This resulted in their household sewage backing up into their basement because the line was clogged with “flushable wipes”. Since the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance and repair of their lateral, they had to hire a plumber at their expense to have the “flushable wipes” cleaned out of their line. If this homeowner did not have the proper insurance coverage, they would have had to, at their own expense, clean and sanitize the basement, dispose of and replace any personal belongings damaged by the sewage, and risk serious illness.


2013 Steubenville Homeowner Sewer Lateral


Flushing non-dispersible items down the toilet cost the Wastewater Department thousands of dollars each year. These costs continue to rise as the numbers of non-dispersible items available for purchase continue to rise. Sewer backups caused at least in part by these items occurs several times each year resulting in thousands of dollars in overtime costs, regular man hours, equipment operating costs, and disposal costs. When these items reach the Wastewater Treatment Plant there are additional costs associated with capturing and removing these items from the water, disposal fees at the landfill, and repair of pumps and other equipment damaged by these items.

For additional valuable information regarding flushable wipes and other non-dispersing products, you can visit the North American Clean Water Association website. 

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