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VIDEO: Surprising problem clogging Denver’s sewer system

DENVER — There are more than a thousand miles of sewer pipe in Denver Wastewater Management’s sewer system.

And since all the lines are interconnected, what you put down your pipes can have a big impact on your neighbors.

Denver Wastewater Management’s Lupe Martinez says grease from cooking, poured down kitchen drains, is the biggest problem they face in keeping the sewer lines flowing smoothly.

But he says the fastest growing problem is disposable wet wipes.

Martinez says they do not dissolve and eventually clog up pumps at the City’s pumping station.  He says, “New mothers are dumping more into our system. The elderly senior homes are using them more and they’re just flushing them down the toilet and that’s causing a lot of problems.”

Martinez says every month or so, they are forced to put on hazardous materials suits, climb down 30 to 50 feet inside a narrow tunnel to reach the pumps and clean out the wet wipes.

He says, “Those wipes they get into our wells and they clog together, and it’s too much for our pump system. “  He says, “We have to physically go down there and collect all the wipes and bring them up and get rid of them through the trash system.”

And since increases in costs get passed on to customers, Martinez says it’s better for everyone to simply use the trash system, not the sewer system to dispose of the disposable wipes.