City drops camera into sewer line to find clog cause

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Monday, a crew with the Kansas City Water Department planned to drop a camera down the sewer line at 7612 East 75th Street to try to determine what is clogging the line there.

While they suspect tree roots may be to blame, Kansas City has had to call in help to clear more clogs than it has in the past, and some are blaming bathroom wipes for the spike in clogs.

Routine sewer inspections take place every day across Kansas City with as many as 45 being done during the work day. Crews send a robotic camera through the sewer system looking for debris that's blocking the line.

Jennifer Kincaid with KC Water Services says cleaning wipes, napkins, and tree roots are just some of the dozens of ways city sewers are being clogged. Using a high power hose, 3,000 pounds of pressure per square inch is shot through the sewer to clear obstructions.

"What happens if we don't do this, is you can have an overflow in your neighborhood or you can have a larger problem later on at one of the treatment plants," said Kincaid.

If the clogs aren't caught in the line, it can create massive problems back at the treatment plant. Kansas City water services operates 2,800 miles of sewer line, inspection about 90 miles per year.

"We are spending about $2 million to both look at camera inspections and clean the system," said Kincaid. "That saves us millions in the long haul."

In a recent newsletter, KC Water Services listed all the items it doesn't want you flushing down the toilet:

Automotive fluids, bandages and bandage wrappings, chewing gum, cigarette butts, cleaning wipes of any kind, condoms, cotton balls and swabs, dental floss, disposable diapers, facial tissue, grease, paint, solvents, sealants and thinners, poisons and hazardous waste, sanitary napkins, tampons & tampon applicators or unused medications.

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