Wipe Usage Increase Costs Oakland, Macomb Counties Hundreds of Thousands in Cleanup Costs

Photo: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty

DETROIT, April 5, 2021 ~ An increase in usage of personal wipes during the pandemic is ruining sewer pipes and pump stations, and cleanups are expensive.

A Clinton Township pump station reported approximately 1,000 wipes flushed every week. Since the stay-at-home began, the average has raised to nearly 4,000 per week.

In a pandemic, the worst thing that could happen is they have a sewer backup, which could happen if these things continue like this,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

The wipes, which are not biodegradable, build up into hard masses inside sewage pipes, which can lead to blockages and other issues.


April 5, 2021 ~ Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller tells Paul W. she is asking Michigan residents to please stop throwing wipes in the toilet because it’s wrecking havoc on sewer pipes and pump stations.

In 2018, the Macomb CountyFatberg” (a mass of matter in a sewer system formed from non-biodegradable solids, such as wet wipes, and congealed grease) cost the county $100,000 to remove. A more recent cleanup cost over $400,000.

A couple of years ago, we had about 70 tons of these things, but just recently we completed a cleanup that was 270 tons. So just a huge increase,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

Miller asks that residents dispose of the wipes in the trash, and not flush them.