By Reg Chapman

MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. (WCCO) — A problem none of us enjoys talking about could soon cost us all more money.

It’s a giant glob of so-called “flushable” wipes that got stuck in Mounds View’s city sewer system last week. About 25 feet below ground in the city of Mounds View, a public works crews is busy pulling the grinder pump out of a lift station.

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“It got clogged, jammed whatever term you want to use, with the flushable wipes and that brought it to a grinding halt,” said Nyle Zikmund.

Mounds View City Administrator Nyle Zikmund says earlier this week, crews got an alert about a clog of flushable wipes stuck in the system.

“They pulled a glob out a day or so ago that was almost two feet long so they cleared that and then had to get down to the pump but even when they did the final extraction, the gears out of the housing, he literally had to get in there with pliers and pull the pieces of flushable wipes out of there because there was so much friction and it was just stuck,” Zikmund said.

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Crews say the grinder can’t handle the product that is not breaking down in the sewer.

“When its running, the big teeth are spinning and it eats up all the rags and debris or whatever may be down in there and we just happened to have some rags that were too much for it,” said Neil Hiatt, a city worker.

These rags of flushable wipes have created havoc on sewer systems everywhere. A 15-ton glob of wipes and hardening cooking grease had to be freed from a sewer system in London. It was called the Fatberg.

Smaller versions of it have been found in Mounds View and other cities across the Twin Cities. Zikmund says the cost to get the wipes out the pipes adds up.

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“We’re going to be $10,000 in overtime, we’re going to have an assessment of the pump. If that has to be rebuilt, that’s probably a $20,000 piece of equipment between the pump and the grinder,” Zikmund said.

Reg Chapman