In New York City, clogged sewer lines are getting City Council members all worked up — and soon, city law might require New Yorkers to think before they flush.

According to the New York Daily News, an increasing number of New Yorkers are choosing to use wet wipes instead of toilet paper.

When flushed down a toilet, these wet wipes — along with items like feminine hygiene products and paper towels — can devastate a sewer line system by blocking the flow of sewage. Typically, a sewer lining repair or replacement is necessary after these products enter a sewer line system.

To combat this growing problem throughout the five boroughs, City Councilmen Donovan Richards (D-Queens) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill on Thursday, Feb. 12 that would ban all advertising and labeling of wet wipes as “flushable.”

“It”s false advertisement, and it’s costing taxpayers at the end of the day millions of dollars,” Richards said. “People who buy wipes need to know that they can’t flush it down the toilet.”

Moist toilet wipes don’t quickly disintegrate in water like toilet paper does, meaning these wipes collect on filtration screens at wastewater treatment plants, the Daily News reported. This buildup then has to be manually removed — and the amount of wipes and other waste removed at plants has more than doubled since 2008 to 110,000 cubic feet per month. On a year-to-year basis, the costs of removing these wipes from clogged sewer lines and treatment plants have grown by $3 million annually.

Outside New York’s urban sprawl, another common cause of sewer line backups is tree roots. When seeking out water and nutrients for survival, a tree will send fine, hair-like roots into the cracks of a sewer line, eventually causing blockage.

If passed, the bill would enforce a $5,000 fine on manufacturers that label wet wipes as flushable. It’s a small step toward preventing sewer line clogs and blockage in the city, but it could make huge strides in changing popular opinion of these wipes.

What are your thoughts about this bill? Have any other questions about sewer line replacement or repair? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments below.

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