Holyoke Water Works is urging all residents to reject the label on so-called ‘flushable wipes’ or other wipes and dispose of them in the garbage. That’s because they are clogging sewer systems and blockages caused by wipes cause utility workers to remove them in confined places – many times this must be done by hand, which is dangerous and costly.
“These flushable wipes, which are being used by people sometimes to clean door knobs, countertops, and other surfaces, are a growing hazard to public health,” said Nadine Leslie, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ North America. “We fully understand that disinfection is especially important now because of COVID-19, but we are seeing a large increase in people disposing of these wipes in their toilet instead of in the garbage.”
Many of the wipes are advertised as being just like toilet paper, but they do not disintegrate in the sewerage system. That’s because while wipes might look a bit like toilet paper, they are generally made from a very tough material, and are often soaked with cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and sometimes, even scents. Since wipes act very differently in sewer pipes than toilet paper, they have a tendency to ensare with other wipes and create blockages.
According to Ms. Leslie, wipes are not the only waste item that people should not flush down the toilet. She pointed out that workers have found many waste objects that should not be flushed, such as cigarette butts, dental floss, hair and unwanted medication.
“Sewers and wastewater systems are designed to dispose of very specific items, and using a toilet as a trash can for convenience products can results in blockages,” Ms. Leslie said. “The sewer pipes that connect homes to community sewer systems are only wide enough to carry water, toilet paper and human waste.”
During the global health crisis SUEZ officials are working 24 hours a day ensuring the health and safety of its workforce as they work hard to keep wastewater service running smoothly and efficiently. The company encourages all residents across North America to remember the toilet is not a trash can.
“These are stressful times for everyone, and SUEZ is doing all we can to continue normal water and wastewater operations. But we need the help of the community as well. Every day community wastewater cleaning systems capture tons of trash, before it enters and fouls the larger treatment systems. Each and every one of us can help, by maintaining healthy habits, only flushing toilet paper, and tossing everything else into the trash,” said Ms. Leslie.
Here is a partial list of common household items that SHOULD NOT be flushed:
• Baby or moist bathroom wipes
• Medications, vitamins and supplements
• Facial tissue or paper towels
• Cat litter, coffee grounds, cigarette butts
• Feminine hygiene products of any kind
• Contact lenses or plastics of any kind
• Bandages, wrappers, cotton balls, dental floss
• Cleaning wipes, dust cloths and duster heads
For further information, SUEZ recommends visiting the National Association of Water Companies website: www.nacwa.org/toilets.