Not so flushable wipes costing Leesburg thousands

LEESBURG, Ind. --- The small town of Leesburg has had issues with not so flushable wipes clogging sewer systems for years. Now, the town is warning residents fines will be issued if people continue to put wipes down the pipes.

Leesburg is home to only 550 people—meaning the budget is limited. Backed up sewage pipes have been bursting from people using flushable wipes, and the town worries it is costing more than they can afford.

Patsy Hamilton, a resident of Leesburg, expressed frustration over these issues digging into the town’s budget.

"Very frustrated, very frustrated because everybody's going to feel the financial burden," said Hamilton.

Jim Hales, Leesburg resident, wanted those backing up the sewer systems to take responsibility.

"They should be held accountable and watch what they flush down the drain," said Hales.

ABC 57 News’ Tiffany Salameh first covered the story in May, but the issues continued.

When people use the supposedly flushable wipes, they cannot break down in the sewer pipes, which then cause clogs and eventually pipes break down. This issue now costs the town of Leesburg up to $10,000 each time it happens.

Derek Tenney, Service Technician with Tenney & Sons, Inc. responds to residents calls of sewage backups regularly—as often as at least once or twice a week.

”That is quite a bunch of calls,” said Tenney. “On average, we're averaging about five to ten a month in full repairs,” said Tenney.

Christina Archer, President of the Leesburg Town Council, feared the situation is only getting worse. Now, the town is issuing notices and decided to fine repeat violators.

“We'll start with a warning, and we've tried it,” said Archer “But after that the fines can go up to $500, plus the cost of the repair and believe me [that] can be very expensive," continued Archer.

The town will find out if residents in the town are clogging pipes when either an alarm sounds on the grinder pumps outside residents’ homes, or residents call to report sewage backup.

While many members of the community, including town officials, agree issuing fines is not ideal—the town is suffering too much to let this go on, according to Archer.

"I hate to do that [charge fines] to a small town like this,” said Tenney. “Especially with a lot of them having people living on social security, on low incomes, but if that's what it takes...that's what it's going to take,” said Tenney.

School children plan on delivering notifications with information with what cannot go down the pipes, according to Archer. Flushable wipes can still be used, but Tenney encouraged everyone to throw them away and keep the wipes out of the pipes.

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