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Wastewater Managers Remind People: Don’t Flush ‘Flushable’ Wipes

City of Corvallis

With toilet paper a scarce commodity on store shelves these days, some people are turning to so-called “flushable wipes” instead. But that’s leading to another potential problem.

Despite their name, “flushable wipes” aren’t supposed to be flushed. Wastewater managers say that doing so can cause sewer backups, both at home and in municipal sewage systems.

"Imagine a couple of wipes, colliding with a ball of grease, colliding with some additional waste in the sewer system, then you've got a large clog on your hands," said City of Corvallis spokesman Patrick Rollens.

He said people should also avoid flushing hygiene products and paper towels. “These are all things that we need to constantly educate the public about, and it’s even more important right now because so many folks are at home using their home plumbing systems a lot more,” he said.

Corvallis is one of many cities reminding people to only flush the “Three P’s.” That is, pee, poop and toilet paper. Flushable wipes can still be used, but they should be put in the trash.

Rollens says the current coronavirus outbreak should not impact operations at the city's wastewater facilities.

"These are essential systems for the City of Corvallis," he said. "We have a staffing plan in place that will account for illnesses, and people who need to be absent due to childcare."

"The good news," said Rollens, "is that a lot of these large facilities are automated to a certain extent."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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