Don’t flush paper towels, wipes down the toilet

The California State Water Resources Control Board urged residents to avoid flushing paper towels, wipes and other cleaning materials down the drain to avoid plumbing back-ups.

“Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities,” Water Resource officials stated, “creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Even wipes marked as “safe” to wash down the toilet can block the passage of water and other materials.

According to Water Resource officials, wastewater treatment facilities around the state are already reporting issues with their sewer management collection systems. Water-treatment companies are also asking the public to not discard wipes in the toilet, but instead to throw them in the trash to avoid backups and overflow.

Major cities in the state have centralized sewage-collection systems, according to a press release from The California State Water Resources Control Board. These systems depend on gravity to move water and human waste.

“Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer system and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems,” officials stated. “Many spills go to our lakes, rivers and oceans where they have broad ranging impacts on public-health and the environment.”

As global health officials continue to implement restrictions to workers, businesses and other events to stop the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, water officials stated that keeping the plumbing system clear helps protect the public’s health.

“Preventing sewer spills is important, especially during this COVID-19 emergency, for the protection of public health and the environment,” officials said.

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