COMBES — Officials have a word of advice: Be kind to your sewer system.

In the early 2000s, the town of Combes was given 100 percent grant funding from the Texas Water Development Board to bring in wastewater.

Because of that the city let go of their septic tank system and was able to put in lift stations and create a sewage system. According to Town Administrator Aida Gutierrez, that has been one of their main expenses within the water department.

However, after upgrading their system, problems continue to rise.

Workers have found paper products and non-flushable items caught up in wastewater lift-station pumps. Because of the debris, pumps stop working properly and, Gutierrez said, costly repairs have to be made.

“We have several lift stations in our town. They are inspected daily, especially on the weekends. And when the lift station is full of wastewater they have to clean it out and pull it out and find all this debris being flushed,” Gutierrez said.

“All that debris causes our pumps to break and it is time-consuming for employees to take them out and clean them out. We have found pieces of clothing in there. I’m not sure if they are being flushed or they are going through our manholes, but it ends up in our lift station,” she said.

To avoid having to do costly treatment repairs, the city is advising residents to not flush items such as diapers, paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs or baby wipes, among others. These items do not decompose the way toilet paper does and they obstruct water pumps from working properly.

“We noticed this about two weeks ago but it quite often it happens. We have to remind our town citizens not to flush these. Just because it says you can, it doesn’t mean it will go through our system,” she said.

According to Gutierrez, a pump can cost anywhere from $1,800 to $2,000 for a two-horse power. The biggest pump at 15 horse power runs from $9,200 to $10,000.

“We have had to repair and replace pumps. All our lift station pumps were put in at the same time years ago and they are depreciating. But what doesn’t help are these items,” she said.

Gutierrez said the city has prepared $50,000 in their budget for repairs but is hoping to restrain from having to use it.

The city of Combes urges residents to avoid flushing items that are not able to decompose to avoid continuing with this issue.

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Items that should not be flushed

– Diapers, paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs, baby wipes

– Adult wipes, hair, gum and candy wrappers, facial pads, dental floss, cigarettes

– Cotton balls, scoops of kitty litter, women’s hygiene products, all-purpose cleaning wipes, adhesive bandages and makeup remover wipes