Fatburg warning: If you are out of toilet paper, don't flush disposable wipes - InfoNews

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Fatburg warning: If you are out of toilet paper, don't flush disposable wipes

Flushing anything but toilet paper down the toilet can result in sewer blockages known as 'fatburgs'.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RDOS
March 18, 2020 - 11:47 AM

The recent wave of toilet paper hoarding caused by the COVID-19 outbreak is causing headaches for the region’s utility workers who want to avoid 'fatburgs' in the sewer system.

Non-toilet paper products can seriously impact sewer infrastructure by clogging pipes and treatment plant equipment, resulting in workers engaging in the very unpleasant task of extracting these fatburgs.

Empty shelves of toilet paper in the region’s supermarkets have resulted in consumers resorting to using toilet paper substitutes such as flushable antiseptic wipes or similar products.

Residents are being asked today, March 18, by the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District and the City of Kelowna to avoid flushing disposable wipes, paper towels, reinforced paper towels or hygiene related products down the toilet.

“In this challenging time when we are spending more time at home as we do our part, we must be conscious that our homes have to function. The last thing we need is to have the sewer lines clog and essential services stretched as we work to serve the public needs,” regional district wastewater utilities foreman Rina Seppen says in a media release.

Kelowna’s water quality and customer care supervisor Ed Hoppe advised residents to not flush dental floss, paper towels, flushable wipes or feminine hygiene products down the toilet.

"We share residents’ concerns about the current situation and recognize that everyone is taking extra precautions to ensure that hands and surfaces are clean and disinfected,” Hoppe says in a media release.

“While this is an important step in helping to reduce the spread of the virus, it is also extremely important to remember that any type of disposable wipe, including baby wipes and wipes that are labelled as flushable, must go into the garbage and not be flushed into the sewer system,” Hoppe says.

Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate into pulp and move easily through the sewage treatment process, while flushable wipes and other products aren’t. These products are more properly disposed of in the curbside garbage.

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