Ew! What MAWSS says customers are flushing down the tubes


NBC 15 has an inside look at the bathroom behaviors flushing millions of Mobile Area Water and Sewer System dollars down the drain, hurting you on the other end.

Right now, there’s a project in the works that is going to cost $1.5 million dollars to fish out the debris people are pushing through the sewer system at one MAWSS plant.

NBC 15 has the two products posing the biggest threats on sewer pipes. Plus, the most shocking items found on the other end of the sewer systems.

The sewage industry calls it a pluming pandemic and these wet wipes are at the forefront when people toss them down the toilet.

From a bird's eye-view, an inside look at the Eslava Creek MAWSS lift station doesn't look like 6 million gallons of sanitary sewer water.

“It looks like dirt, but it's grease and debris,” MAWSS Lift Station Supervisor Terry Herman said, adding “It's created a mat and below that's about 12 feet of actual waste water.”

Employees at the Eslava Creek lift station reeled out a sample of the gunk to show NBC 15 what is chunking and churning into the system, tangling into a six to eight inch mat that shouldn't exist.

With a closer glimpse, the debris becomes visible: grease, cotton balls, Q-tips, condoms, tooth brushes, towels and a plethora of disposable wipes.

“We see a lot of syringes, a lot of feminine products, hair, fishing line, coke bottles, towels and wash rags,” Herman said.

Herman says disposable wipes and grease are MAWSS’ two biggest problems and they work hand and hand with each other to clog up the system.

“When a disposable wipe is flushed and it catches on or snags on the inside of a pipe then fats and grease leach on to it and then you have a perpetuating snowball effect.”

The bundling effect is creating costly consequences.

“The end result is it's the customer that has to pay for maintenance of what we do.”

Crews already must manually vacuum the mat of debris and grease twice a year.

Now, MAWSS is in the design phase of creating screens that will prevent the mat of mess as it heads through the lift station.

“Just one station is $1.5 million to try to remove the rags and debris that are coming to this station.”

$1.5 million to clean up community member’s kitchen and bathroom business.

MAWSS launched a program “It's Easy to be Ungreasy.” You can pick up a free grease container at one of these locations and just bring it back when it's full.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off