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The City of Chaska is reminding people to watch what they're flushing.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the city shared a picture (above) of a pump at a sewer lift station that was covered in what's left of a cotton towel that made its way into the sewer system. 

"Our crews have had to clean this particular pump four times in the last seven days, which is not good. Let's help our Water and Sewer crews (and each other) by only flushing toilet paper and [poop emoji] down the toilet," the city said. 

Typically, pumps in Chaska's lift stations are cleaned for preventative maintenance every quarter, so about four times per year. 

"Anything more than that is usually because of a blockage or something stuck in the impeller of the pump," Kevin Wright, Chaska's communications manager, told Bring Me The News on Friday. 

Other items like towels, paper towels, "flushable" wipes, facial tissues, baby wipes and sanitary products should always be put in the trash and not flushed because if they are, they can clog the pumps at sewer lift stations.

This can cause a sewer backup, with the city saying: "Trust us when we say that's the last thing we want to have happen."

"We want to let people know that if the wrong things are flushed down the toilet, there’s also a risk that their sewer service and city’s sewer system may not run as efficiently and could back up," Wright said. "When materials get stuck in the pumps, it makes it tougher for the pumps to do their job and keep the waste water moving. It may seem like everything is fine if the toilet flushes, but there could be impacts down the line that create bigger issues than a clogged toilet."

The city says it has handed out flyers to the homes located around the impacted lift station, which includes an area near downtown Chaska that has a mix of commercial and residential properties, and shared the photo on Facebook as another way to spread awareness about what not to flush.

"It does seem like this issue has been getting worse at this particular lift station, so we wanted to use this opportunity to share information with our community about what can and can’t be flushed down the toilet," Wright said. 

Wipes that are labeled "flushable" — and other things that shouldn't be flushed — have been causing problems for city wastewater facilities for years because they don't break down as toilet paper does. This can lead to plumbing repair bills for residents and increased wastewater fees from cities as they spend time and money cleaning pumps or repairing and replacing equipment early, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says.

The MPCA said the City of Minnetonka spends $1,000 to $1,500 clearing each backup, and once or twice a year the clogs cause sewage to back up into people's homes.

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