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Town Talk: No toilet paper??

The COVID-19 virus has caused an unusual shortage of toilet paper. Because of this, people may be using other items. Please do not flush anything down the toilet besides toilet paper.

Many people purchase wipes for convenience and believe these wipes can be flushed with toilet paper. The companies claim they are septic safe or break down after flushing. These wipes do not break down and clog up pumps and sewer lines. They can also plug up the lateral pipe from the house to the sewer pipe in the street. This could lead to costly cleanouts or backups in the home.

I’m sure many people think, “It’s just a couple of wipes, it can’t hurt anything.” This might actually be the case but when many people are flushing the wipes, they bind together with the grease and everything else in the system and create large masses that clog pipes and pumps. If you Google flushable wipes in wastewater and take a look at the images, it’s a scene out of a horror movie! The wastewater personnel clean out messes like this daily! Because of the wipes, we have had to install a grinder to break up the wipes but we have found that the ground up wipes come back together to form a ball and cause problems. We would love for these wipes to be put in the garbage!

Since we are talking about things down the toilet, there are a few other things that shouldn’t get flushed. Grease, dental floss, feminine products, cat litter and medications cause us problems also! There has been some research lately about what is in our wastewater and it has been found that the medications we take and old medications flushed down the toilet are being found in our waterways and eventually in our drinking water. For example, hormone medications such birth control pills are causing male fish to grow eggs and in turn making them sterile and causing them to die off.

The Sherriff’s office and most pharmacies will take old medication to dispose of or you can put them in the garbage. A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t put it down your sink drain, don’t flush it down the toilet.

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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