With toilet paper in low supply and cleaning in high gear, local government officials are reminding the public that paper towels, disinfectant wipes (even the ‘flushable’ kind) and latex gloves pose a significant risk to B.C.’s sanitary collection systems.
“With individuals and families doing their part by staying home, our systems are seeing a spike in use,” said Jeff Miller, director of engineering and public works for the Township of Esquimalt. “We need to be mindful of how we’re treating the Township’s assets.”
Miller reminds residents the only things that should be going into the sanitary system are human waste and toilet paper.
According to the Capital Regional District (CRD) on southern Vancouver Island, improper materials can lead to clogs, blockages and wastewater equipment damage – all of which can shut down sewer systems.
Reminder: Flushing any type of wipe, including disinfecting wipes and wipes marked as "flushable" causes clogging at our sanitary sewage pump stations and may result in sewer backups. ➡️ Please dispose of wipes in your garbage. #yyj #wipesclogpipes— City of Victoria (@CityOfVictoria) March 21, 2020
And a sewage clog or blockage can result in raw sewage overflows into the region’s rivers or lakes. It could even require you to have to leave your home – an especially complicated scenario in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our municipal sewer systems are built to handle human waste and toilet paper that is specifically designed to deteriorate quickly,” said Glenn Harris, senior manager of the CRD’s environmental protection team. “Anything else … that you put down your drains leads to clogs, blockages and sewer pump damage.”
He said that solid waste “can mix with fats, oils and grease in the wastewater to form large clogs.”
Harris emphasized that the same rules apply for those using septic systems.
“Septic systems are like municipal sewer systems, but toilet paper designed for these systems deteriorates slower to protect the distribution field,” he explained. “However, anything else … that you put down your drains leads to clogs, blockages and sewer pump damage. Any of these situations can shut down your septic system.”
Harris said disinfectant can also kill off beneficial bacteria in septic systems and leave your wastewater untreated.
For more information about proper use of septic or sewer systems, check with your local government authority.