Baby wipes cause sewage backup in North Franklin

Katie Anderson

 Some North Franklin Township residents woke up Tuesday morning to sewage flooding their Spring Valley Drive basements.

“We started noticing what we thought was water about 5 a.m., but then we realized it’s raw sewage,” said Kevin Meyer, who lives in the basement of his father’s residence at 56 Spring Valley.

Kevin said most of his belongings were destroyed. His father, Frank Meyer, said he just bought and moved into the house about four months ago and that this isn’t the first time they’ve had sewage flooding.

“There was eight inches in the basement this morning,” Frank said. “It’s black, stinking sewage.”

Two houses down the road, at 82 Spring Valley, the basement also sustained sewage flooding. But the two houses between 82 and 56 Spring Valley sit on slabs and do not have basements, according to Washington-East Washington Joint Authority operations manager Mike Sherrieb.

WEWJA had been called to the scene Tuesday afternoon. Sherrieb said the main sanitary sewer line that serves a limited number of homes on Spring Valley had a major blockage caused by a mass of sanitary baby wipes that had been flushed over time.

“The manhole with the clog in it was full of sanitary baby wipes,” Sherrieb said. “They do not decompose and continue to build up and cause problems for us all throughout our system. They say flushable, but they’re not permitted in our system.”

He also said there was a stormwater connection to the sanitary line, which is prohibited and caused the water to back up quickly after so much rain had fallen.

“We relieved and opened the line, removed the blockage and cleaned the line with our high-pressure jet truck,” Sherrieb said.

He said his crews would also use cameras to inspect the line. He said any customers who were affected by flooding can file claims with WEWJA for costs or expenses related to cleanup, loss of property or living arrangements. Those claims would then be turned over to WEWJA’s insurance company.

“We do apologize for any inconvenience to any of our customers,” Sherrieb said.

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