Epidemic of Wipes and Masks Plague Sewers, Storm Drains

Mayor Jim Kenney kicked off a recent briefing on Philadelphia’s coronavirus response with an unusual request for residents: Be careful what you flush. Between mid-March, when the city’s stay-at-home order was issued, and the end of April, most of the 19 sewer and storm water pumping stations in Philadelphia had experienced clogs from face masks, gloves and wipes residents had pitched into the potty, Kenney said.

What’s Flushed Today Can be a Problem Months from Now Because of Coronavirus Fears

Most businesses across the country and certainly in the Coachella Valley are dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis on a daily basis.

Toilet Paper Shortage Could Impact FPUD, Rainbow Sewer Systems

The shortage of toilet paper is causing some residents to utilize other wiping substances and, when toilets are flushed with some of those alternatives, local sewer lines are impacted.

“The primary issue we have when people do that is backups in the sewer,” Jack Bebee, general manager of Fallbrook Public Utility District, said.

“We’ve seen an increase in our maintenance needs related to dealing with items such as flushable wipes,” Tom Kennedy, general manager of Rainbow Municipal Water District, said.

“Paper towels are not particularly made either to get through the sewer system,” Bebee said.

Scratch paper, wax and other materials have been flushed down toilet drains and into the sewer systems.

“We find all sorts of things in there,” Kennedy said.

“Clogs have been caused by that,” Bebee said.

“We see the flushable wipes more than anything else. They’re not flushable. They might say flushable on the package, but they’re not flushable,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t degrade. You need things that are biodegradable.”