Water treatment officials remind Utahns to only flush toilet paper

Photo: Kaysville Police Department

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 25, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Water treatment officials are warning Utahns to only flush toilet paper as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Quality, the Water Environment Association of Utah and the Wasatch Front Water Quality Council are reminding residents of the hazards posed by flushing wet wipes, paper towels and napkins down the toilet, said a news release.

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in residents flushing other paper products down the toilet. This has caused an increase in backed-up toilets and overflowing sewer lines in Utah and across the country; even wipes marketed as “flushable” will clog pipes, the news release said.

“It is critical that people help protect the integrity of Utah’s wastewater infrastructure during the coronavirus public health emergency,” says Director of Utah’s Division of Water Quality Erica Gaddis.

“Wet wipes, napkins and paper towels do not break down as easily as toilet paper and can clog the system. It is important that residents only flush regular toilet paper down the drain.”

Unlike toilet paper, which dissolves easily in liquids, wipes and paper towels are designed to absorb moisture. These products survive the long journey down miles of sewer pipes to sewage treatment plants. There, at the treatment plant, they clog pumps and other equipment, the news release said.

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Clogged and overflowing sewers are not only a problem for residents dealing with a backed-up line in their home, the news release said. Failures at sewage treatment plants can result in overflows and spills into lakes, rivers and reservoirs where the sewage can harm public health and the environment.

“Utah sewer facilities recommend begging a roll of actual toilet paper off the neighbor and spare the sewer collection and treatment systems problems,” said Jill Jones with the Wasatch Front Water Quality Council and Central Davis Sewer District. “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, by restricting what you flush down your toilet.”

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