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Experts warn of sewer damage from flushed wipes, paper towels

Apr 03, 2020 1:00 pm
Rick Karlin is reporting for the Times Union operators of sewer treatment plants and municipal sewer systems are increasingly concerned that quarantined state residents, given the shortages of toilet paper caused by panic buying, will flush bulkier alternatives such as paper towels and baby wipes down the drain. The result can be sewer line backups in a person’s home or farther along in the system. Plus, non-flushable materials cause problems in sewer treatment plants and often have to be removed by hand. “It’s terrible. It causes huge problems,” said Patricia Cerro-Reehil, executive director of the New York Water Environment Association, which represents sewer treatment plant operators. “It’s a real mess.” Bethlehem Public Works Commissioner George Kansas advised, "If people run out of toilet paper and need to use another product like wipes, they should throw the wipes in the trash after use and not try to flush them." Despite claims to the contrary, wipes are not flushable, Cerro-Reehil said. The products are often made with cotton or synthetic fibers, while toilet paper is only paper. Cerro-Reehil said toilets should be for bodily waste and toilet paper — nothing else. Read the full story in the Times Union.