wastewater treatment facility
COVID-19 concerns have resulted in an increase in wipes and other nonflushable items in treatment systems.
by Amy Cash

More people are staying home due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, and grocery stores are having difficulty keeping household essential items like toilet paper stocked. As a result, wastewater treatment plants are seeing an increase in piping issues caused by nonflushable items. 

Read the articles below to learn more about the dangers of flushing items, like wipes, and how wastewater treatment plants are reacting to them.

Shredded T-Shirts Used as Toilet Paper Clogged California City’s Sewer, Officials Believe

The toilet paper shortage is leading some people to resort to other ways of wiping and it caused a problem for part of the Redding sewer system Wednesday night. Someone apparently used shredded T-shirts when they didn’t have toilet tissue, wastewater management officials said Thursday. As a result, one of the city’s sewer lines backed up at a lift station and workers had to take quick action to avert a dangerous spill. Keep reading here.

Disinfecting Wipes are being Flushed Down Toilets and Causing Major Pipe Problems

Disinfecting wipes are helping people combat the spreading of germs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But some experts say the wipes, arguably the supply that’s been used to clean surfaces in homes the most, are harming sewers. Why? Because people are flushing wipes down toilets, rather than dumping them in the trash.

Now, public agencies around the nation are urging people to solely throw their wipes in the trash, warning that not doing so could cause blockages and damage to sewer systems.

Keep reading here.

UK’s Sewage System in Danger of Gridlock from Toilet Paper Substitutes

Consumers have been warned of the dangers of substituting kitchen roll and wet wipes for toilet paper which – if flushed down the loo – could overwhelm the UK’s sewers.

Innocent consumer substitutions due to shortages caused by fears about the spread of coronovirus could create serious consequences which are critical to society and life, according to leading supply chain academic Prof Richard Wilding.

Keep reading here.

Wastewater Experts: Stop Flushing Wet Wipes, Even if Manufacturers Say It’s Safe

Have you ever flushed a wet wipe down the toilet? The wipes are a billion-dollar industry, but wastewater experts say flushing them is causing sewage back-ups and a multi-million-dollar mess. Wastewater experts say unless it’s toilet paper, you shouldn’t flush it down, begging people to stop flushing wet wipes, even if manufacturers say it’s safe.

Sewer system experts aren’t convinced “flushable wipes” break down fast enough to prevent problems. In Colorado Springs new technology aims to hold flushers accountable for any problems.

Keep reading here.

Americans Coping With the Coronavirus Are Clogging Toilets

Many Americans seem to be following the recommendations of public health officials to clean and sterilize countertops, doorknobs, faucets and other frequently touched surfaces in their homes.

The problem? Many are then tossing the disinfectant wipes, paper towels and other paper products they used into the toilet.

The result has been a coast-to-coast surge in backed-up sewer lines and overflowing toilets, according to plumbers and public officials, who have pleaded with Americans to spare the nation’s pipes from further strain.

Keep reading here.

Disinfecting Wipes, Paper Towels Not Flushable, Vancouver Public Works Reminds Public

Now more than ever, we know the importance of good hygiene and keeping surfaces clean.

Typically, you would use a disinfecting wipe or a disinfecting spray with a clean paper towel to clean a surface. Vancouver Public Works wants to remind the public, though, that these two options are not flushable like toilet paper.

The department says that toilet paper is made to disintegrate and other products—even if they are branded as “flushable”—are made much tougher and they need to go in the trash.

Keep reading here.

Stop! Don't Flush That.

Local supermarkets are seeing a shortage of toilet paper as the world responds to the coronavirus and shoppers stock up on household products in preparation for staying home. This could mean an increase in usage of "flushable" wipes, tissues and paper towels as an alternative, which ultimately can have catastrophic effects on wastewater systems.

We spoke to Stacy Belanger, product manager for JWC Environmental, about the threat this poses to wastewater treatment and how companies are responding.

Keep reading here