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Utah environmental officials warn against flushing wipes and paper towels

Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 19:55:49-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Clogged sewer pipes may be an unintended consequence of COVID-19, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

With panic buying spawning a shortage of toilet paper, Central Sewer District Manager Jill Jones thinks more people are tempted to use replacement products that don’t break down in water.

“They get snagged on something, they get wrapped around my pumps,” Jones said.

Paper towels, napkins, and wet wipes can get caught in pipes, causing infrastructure damage and even push raw sewage back into homes.

“The toilet wipes are maybe less flushable than advertised,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Spokesperson Jared Mendenhall said.

Last week, Roy City discovered found a clog made up entirely of wet wipes just before it caused any problems.

“Be careful what you’re flushing down the toilets. We don’t want to overwhelm the water treatments. Let’s just keep that to toilet paper,” Mendenhall said.

The Wasatch Front Water Quality Council said in a statement: “Our employees can't work from home and no one wants their sewers shut off, so when you think of what you can do during this stressful time, don't forget to make it a little easier on the sewer folks, too.”