“Flushable” Wipes Cause Sanitary Sewer Overflow in Silver Spring

by MCS Staff

“Flushable” Wipes Cause Sanitary Sewer Overflow in Silver Spring

WSSC Water Crews Quickly Respond and Stop the Overflow (Drinking Water System Not Impacted)


WSSC Water crews quickly responded to and stopped a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) in a heavily wooded area of the 300 block of Hillsboro Drive in Silver Spring. The SSO began at approximately 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday (4/20/21) and ended at 12:10 p.m. today. The total volume of the overflow is 10,200 gallons of untreated wastewater.

An excessive number of “flushable” wipes clogged the sewer main, causing untreated wastewater to overflow from a nearby manhole into a nearby creek.

Many companies market personal hygiene wipes as “flushable,” however these products do not break down and disintegrate in the sewer system like toilet paper. The accumulation of these wipes causes blockages in sewer mains. Wastewater then overflows from manholes, often running into streams and rivers, which lead to the Chesapeake Bay.

The 12-inch diameter sewer pipe that was clogged with wipes is in a stream bed located in a densely wooded area. All repair equipment, including bypass pumps, had to be carried to the site by hand. Crews set up a temporary bypass pumping operation to move the wastewater around the clogged section of pipe.

Signs have been posted alerting residents to avoid the area while repairs are made and the wipes hauled away. Impacted areas were treated with hydrated lime.

It is important to note that the water and wastewater systems are separate. This overflow is NOT affecting WSSC Water’s drinking water.

WSSC Water has made appropriate notifications to the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Montgomery County Health Department.


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