Massive wad of baby wipes clogs Bradenton sewage pipe, causing spill

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There's a smell in the air around Wares Creek in Bradenton, and it's not a good one. A burst pipe -- caused by a huge clog of baby wipes -- pushed 80,000 gallons of wastewater into the creek Monday night.

"There was a temporary rise in the pressure in the pipe which was caused by a clog," said Jeannie Roberts with the city of Bradenton. 

Officials said the 64-year-old pipe was too weak to handle what people were flushing. Baby wipes and rags formed a giant ball that clogged the works. 

"Our publics works crews are out on a regular basis trying to stay ahead of something like this happening," said Roberts. 

It's a hard thing to combat. The city of Bradenton wants residents to know: Even if an item says "flushable," that doesn't mean you should flush it. 

"We want people to be more mindful about how long it takes to break down. It is flushable but then it goes in the pipe along with everybody else's who are served by our wastewater treatment plant," said Roberts. 

If you think it's just a Bradenton problem, think again.  Utilities departments across the nation are having to deal with items like baby wipes and rags that are being flushed and that's just the beginning. 

"We see toys, we see 2x4's, we see a whole host of things that somehow end up in our gravity sewer system," said Bill Riebe. 

City of Sarasota utilities director Bill Riebe said they get about two calls per week to remove blockages from the sewer system. 

"We had a little over 100 blockages over the past year. Roughly 70 percent of those were directed to oils, fats and grease," said Riebe. 

The main message: Think twice before you let anything down the toilet and drain. 

"It just doesn’t effect the person who flushed the item down the commode. It effects everybody upstream of there too," added Riebe.