In 2019, a 19-ton glob of garbage and waste clogged a southeast Michigan sewer. 

Called a “fatberg,” the blockage was made of fats, oils and greases bound together mainly by disposable wipes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a four-fold increase in the number of wipes appearing in the Macomb County system, according to Candice Miller, public works commissioner. Some of those wipes are labeled “flushable,” but research suggests they can cause big problems in sewers. 

Wipe-makers disagree, and Miller is suing to keep the word “flushable” off of wipe labels.

The county has filed a lawsuit against wipe manufacturers, as researchers try to determine what’s really “flushable.” 

Will Glover takes you in the sewers, to the research labs and into the dispute that seeks to answer the question, “Can I flush this?”

Watch more from Great Lakes Now >