No Wipes in the Pipes! Help Spread the Word

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River Authority Utilities team removing debris from clogged pipes.

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

Did you know the United Nations will celebrate World Toilet Day on November 19 to help raise awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation? As part of our commitment to safe, clean, enjoyable creeks and rivers, the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) is a full-service wastewater utility provider. We have been in the wastewater treatment business in Bexar County since 1966 and, over the years, have grown to help provide utilities assistance to communities throughout Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.

Our Utilities staff also takes part in education outreach to better inform our constituents of the services we provide and the challenges of operating and maintaining wastewater collection systems and treatment plants. In honor of World Toilet Day, we’d like to bring awareness to prevent these from being flushed down the toilet. Read along as we share more and find out what you can do to help!

Why can’t we flush wipes down the toilet?

Baby wipes and personal hygiene wipes are often marketed as “flushable” and, while in a sense these companies are correct their products will flush, what they don’t tell you is that it is not safe to do so. These “flushable wipes” do not break down in water like toilet paper. This makes them more likely to get stuck in your home sewer pipes and accumulate until water and waste can no longer pass through. Such backups can cause raw sewage to flow back into your home. In the case they do make it through your pipes they cause havoc on your local wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Still skeptical? Check out this video by our Education and Engagement team that demonstrates the difference between toilet paper and a “flushable” wipe in water.

What’s the damage that wipes can cause to our sewage system?

In the River Authority WWTP, raw sewage passes through screens designed to catch debris such as branches and trash, but wipes are becoming an increasing problem.  Wipes also block the WWTP pumps and cause them not to function properly. Clogged pipes, pumps, or screens can cause sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) in our homes, streets, and environment resulting in contamination to personal property and neighborhoods as well as area creeks and rivers.

 What can I do to help?

Never flush wipes down the toilet! Instead, place a small trash can next to your commode to make it easy to dispose of wipes, feminine hygiene products, or other materials. Keep wipes for your guests to use? Use a sharpie to cross out the “flushable” claim on the packaging and ask your guests to use the trash instead.

Other items to make sure to trash and not flush are disinfecting wipes, facial tissues, disposable wipes, make-up wipes, rags, wet wipes, cloth towels, and paper towels.

 

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Alerts

Riverfront Parkway – Acequia Lift Station

Thursday, June 20 – Sunday, June 23, Riverfront Parkway is partially closed. Expect delays in traffic due to construction work. We apologize for any inconvenience.

San Pedro Creek: Rains from the Heavens

The Rains from the Heavens water wall at San Pedro Creek will be shut off due to maintenance Tuesday, June 18th. There will also be some road closures that day, so please be mindful if you are in this area. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Acequia Trail Notice

The Acequia trail will have heavy traffic near MROC starting May 22nd until further notice. The SAWS Acequia project will be bringing in crews to work on the lift station site and across the street. There will have flaggers to stop traffic, please use caution. 

SASPAMCO Paddling Trail

The SASPAMCO paddling trail is open from River Crossing Park to Helton Nature Park.
*Please Note: Paddling Trail from Helton Nature Park to HWY 97 is still closed due to blockages. 

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