City Addresses Sewer Blockage Issues During COVID-19

Photo courtesy of City of Huntsville

Not everything labeled “flushable” should be flushed. Huntsville Public Works Director Brent Sherrod is calling attention to a plumbing problem that seems to be worsening as people quarantine.

In the last few weeks, the city pipes had an increase in the number of sewage backups caused by wipes, paper towels and even more unusual items like cut up t-shirts, socks, and other hygiene products.

“Not only our [sewer system], but others across the country, so the wipes themselves has been a problem for quite some time,” Sherrod said. “It’s not a new problem, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that more people are at home.”

Now that toilet paper is in short supply, people have turned to using paper towels or flushable wipes instead.

“Flushable” wipes will flush down the toilet as stated, but unlike toilet paper, they do not easily break into small pieces, causing plumbing and sewage treatment problems.

“They’re really just like flushing a piece of t-shirt down the toilet, it doesn’t break down at all,” Sherrod said. “Those products need to be put in the trash can, not in the sewer system.”

During this tough time, the city urges that the community take civic responsibility by flushing the appropriate items into the sewer system.

According to a statement from the city, items that should not be flushed include disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, mop refills, paper towels, towelettes, diapers (cloth, disposable or flushable), dusting or cleaning wipes, feminine hygiene products, facial tissues, moist wipes, toilet bowl scrub pads, wash cloths, towels or rags, underwear or clothing of any type, nursing pads or q-tips.

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