Wastewater systems being clogged with wipes during COVID-19 crisis

WatchOfficials say they're seeing an increase in disinfecting wipes, sanitary wipes, paper towel and other non-paper material being flushed through the sewer system.

Wastewater systems across Vancouver Island and beyond are at risk of being backed up by items that people should not be flushing down their toilets.

“We’re removing two to three times the amount of rags that we were seeing prior to COVID-19,” said Mike Imrie, Manager of Wastewater Services for the Comox Valley Regional District. “Lysol cleaning wipes, baby wipes, paper towels, some linen products are even coming through now.”

Metal screens in sewage stations stop the wipes before they can get into pumps but some still do and risk stopping the system altogether.

It’s a common problem in most sewage systems and many local governments are trying to get the word out on social media.

“Only the three “P’s” Pee, Poo and toilet Paper belong down your toilet,” states a video tweeted by the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The packaging on many wipes indicates they’re flushable but apparently that is not true.

“That’s not true. There’s no standard set out yet within the country for a flushable wipe,” said Imrie.

And it’s more than just an issue of plugging up the system because if that does happen, the repair requires two people to work closely together which should be avoided because of the coronavirus.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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