The Pine River City Council heard that the city experienced three sewer blockages in May.

Public Works Director Mike Hansen explained at the Tuesday, June 9, council meeting that the three blockages appear to have been caused by sanitary wipes, either those used in the bathroom or those used for sanitizing surfaces in the household. Hansen said the city may be able to submit one of the issues to insurance for reimbursement.

This is not the first time Hansen has reported blockages that may have been related to so-called “flushable wipes,” which have been connected to expensive private and public sewer repairs across the country. Wipe manufacturers argue that blockages are primarily caused by wipes that are not meant to be flushed, such as sanitary wipes that have become popular in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, many sewer professionals disagree. In either case, many cities have been asking that residents not flush sanitary wipes, whether labeled flushable or not, to avoid expensive sewer projects and sewer backups, both of which can impact city taxes.

Hansen said the city is looking to borrow a camera to check the condition of several of the city's sewer mains for additional issues.

Council member Tony DeSanto was absent while council member Tammy Hansen attended via teleconference.

In other business June 9, the council:

  • Scheduled a 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, public hearing to address changes in expense for the recent water tower rehabilitation project. The city was given grants to pay for much of the cost, which altered its overall share, which requires that the city now hold a public hearing again on the project with the updated, significantly lower cost.
  • Granted a peddler's license to the Country Stop fruit and vegetable stand that sets up at the Pine River American Legion.
  • Granted permission to the Pine River Area Food Shelf to put up a sign restricting parking to food shelf customers in the one spot directly in front of the food shelf during business hours for as long as the COVID-19 outbreak persists and the shelf continues its curbside pickup service.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.