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Wet wipes first appeared on shelves in the early 2000s and are now marketed for all kinds of purposes: household cleaning, personal care, baby wipes, and more recently as a replacement for toilet paper. These products are often marketed as "flushable," but while they may make it down your toilet drain, they do not break down like normal toilet paper. They can remain intact and cause expensive blockages, backups, and overflows.

wipes pump clog

Wipes clogging a pump in a neighborhood in Vancouver, WA. Photo courtesy of the Association of Clean Water Agencies (ACWA).

wipes pump2 clog

Wipes tangled around a pump. Photo courtesy of City of Vancouver, WA.

wipes clarifier clog

Wipes clogging a wastewater treatment clarifier. These clarifiers are for sedimentation of particulates to separate the sludge from the water – there should be no visible debris on the surface. Photo courtesy of City of Vancouver, WA.

Is it really flushable?

Wipe manufacturers and water treatment facilities continue to disagree on what is a “flushable” item, there is no penalty for noncompliance with industry flushability standards, and testing is technically not required.

Wipes are some of the most common debris found in sewers. Two 1-day collection studies in New York and Florida found only about 1% of sewer debris to be flushable wipes, but respectively 29.1% and 37% to be nonflushable baby wipes.

Multiple studies have found that wipes marketed as flushable do not disintegrate when mixed, blended, or otherwise agitated in water:

  • A Vancouver, Washington study found that only one brand of flushable wipe was able to disintegrate in the sewer.
  • A 2020 study found that out of 101 flushable and non-flushable products, all products aside from toilet paper failed disintegration testing.
  • A 2019 analysis of 58 wipes on the market concluded that there does not appear to be a clear technical difference between "flushable" and nonflushable wipes.
  • Many nonflushable wipes are inadequately labelled as nonflushable, if labelled at all, adding to customer confusion.
wipes city clog
A small clump of wipes caught on a sampler in a manhole here in Albany. Tangled wipes must be removed by hand.

Damage you pay for

Any wipes can clog pipes, leading to sewer blockages, backups, and overflows. Wipes can also damage pumps and other wastewater treatment equipment. The 2020 National Association of Clean Water Agencies report found wipes created a $440 million/year operational cost for wastewater utilities. Even if you are fortunate enough not to experience and pay for a sewage backup or blockage on your own property, your tax dollars are still paying for the cost of backups and other damage created by wipes.

Not sure if it's flushable? Throw it in the trash instead.

Look for the label

wipes dnf logo

In an effort to promote proper disposal of nonflushable wipes and prevent expensive damage to wastewater systems, Washington, Oregon, California, and Illinois have all adopted laws requiring clear "Do Not Flush" labeling on all nonflushable products. The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, reintroduced in 2021 in Congress, contains a national "Do Not Flush" labelling provision for wipes. These efforts can help, but flushable wipes remain an issue.

As a former Dumbeck Lane Domestic Water Service District (Dumbeck) customer, you should have received a door hanger outlining the recent agreement between Dumbeck, the North Albany County Service District (NACSD), and the City of Albany to add Dumbeck customers to the NACSD. We are working now to make this change as easy as possible for you as new customers of the City of Albany.

You do not need to take any further action to maintain continuous water service during this transition.

Changes to your bill

Your new bills will come directly from the City of Albany

City bills for NACSD customers will look different than your previous bill from Dumbeck. 

A helpful example of how to read your City of Albany bill is available by clicking here.

An example of a current NACSD customer bill is included here:

nacsd ub billClick to enlarge

NACSD adopts the same water rates that apply to customers within City limits

The City's rate structure includes a base rate and a consumption rate. As of September 2021, those rates are:

Dumbeck billCity of Albany NACSD bill
Base rate of $20.00 per month  Base charge includes a base rate of $20.64 (for a ¾" meter) and a capital charge of $27.14.

Usage rate:

  • $7.54 per 1,000 gallons 

Consumption rate:

  • $4.60 per 100 cubic feet (< 600 cubic feet)
  • $2.92 per 100 cubic feet (> 600 cubic feet) 

Dumbeck Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund (SDWRF) Loan debt service charges

Some Dumbeck customers are still paying a $19 per month debt service charge for the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund (SDWRF) Loan. Benton County is assuming this loan debt from Dumbeck. The City of Albany will collect this payment from customers monthly on their bill and then transfer those funds to Benton County. 

If you were still paying this as a Dumbeck customer, it will appear on your new City bill as well. Once the loan is fully paid, the debt service charge to former Dumbeck customers will end.

The Dumbeck "infrastructure" charge

The City of Albany only charges customers with working, in-service water meters. Those Dumbeck customers who were paying a monthly fee for their service line without a meter will not receive a similar charge from Albany.

If you have an inactive service line and wish to install a meter on it in the future, you will need to contact the Albany Public Works Department to arrange for the meter installation and begin receiving water. At that time, you will be charged according to the NACSD rate structure as described above.

Low-Income Assistance Program fee

Every single-family residential City of Albany water customer pays a $0.35 per month fee to fully fund the Low-Income Assistance Program. This program helps qualified individuals and families facing financial difficulties pay their City utility bill.

Each year the program provides assistance to around 250 households. For more information on the low-income assistance program, click here.

Rates

Water rates are reviewed by Albany City Council every spring. Any changes become effective on the first of the following year. Current water rate resolutions can be found on the Utility Billing page. The NACSD rate resolution will be available online by October 1, 2021. 

How did we get here?

During 2021, the Dumbeck board began negotiations with the City of Albany and Benton County to add Dumbeck customers into the NACSD. The service district was created in 1990 to provide water service to customers outside the Urban Growth Boundary of the City of Albany in rural Benton County. These services have been provided pursuant to a 1990 agreement between the City and the NACSD.

Questions about billing

If you have any questions, or would like information on e-bills and direct debit payment options, please contact City of Albany Utility Billing at 541-917-7547 or visit their webpage. 

Utility Billing

Problems with your water service

Contact Public Works – Operations to report issues with your water service: 541-917-7600.

canines take the pledge

Albany residents: Pledge to clean up after your dog and receive a free bandana and waste bag holder! Limit one per household.

Fill out my online form.

Over the last few months, the Dumbeck Lane Domestic Water Service District (Dumbeck) Board has been in negotiations with the City of Albany and Benton County to add Dumbeck customers into the North Albany County Service District (NACSD). 

This means you will become a direct water customer of the City of Albany under a new agreement with the NACSD. 

The partnership between the City of Albany and the NACSD has provided drinking water successfully to customers outside Albany’s urban growth boundary since 1991. 

Work is ongoing and more information about this change will be available soon on this webpage.

Questions

Please contact your current Dumbeck Board members with any questions by calling 541-990-1075 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you have questions for the City of Albany, please call 541-917-7676.

What to do

Loss of water pressure can allow harmful bacteria into the water supply. The bacteria can make you sick. They are a particular concern to people with weakened immune systems.

While the boil notice is in effect, customers should bring water to a rolling boil for one minute, allow it to cool before using, and store the cooled water in a clean container with a cover or use bottled water.

Flush cold water taps for five minutes if you see discolored water. Also, flush your refrigerator water line and discard any ice.

For more information, visit the Oregon Health Authority’s “Commonly Asked Questions Following A Boil Water Notice”.

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Today, Saturday, Oct. 1

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