Don’t flush wipes down the toilet

Toilet paper substitutes harm sewer and septic systems

Staff report

Putting non-biodegradable materials in toilets routinely causes problems in sewage systems everywhere, including in the city of Urbana.

Chad Hall, the city’s public works superintendent, says the problem is increasing. More people apparently are trying to flush what shouldn’t be flushed, perhaps because they have trouble finding toilet paper during the pandemic-induced hoarding.

“We’ve noticed an increase in residents flushing baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, paper towels and other non-biodegradable products into toilets,” Hall said. “The flushing of these types of products can quickly block sewer lines, causing major plumbing problems not only inside your home or business, but within the city’s aged infrastructure.”

Hall says “flushable wipes” are not truly flushable, that no wipes should be put in toilets. The problem, he said, is that unlike toilet paper, wipes don’t break down. Instead they get caught by roots infiltrating the sewer system and stuck at the joints of sectional piping. Once these items are trapped in a homeowner’s line, no acid or drain cleaner will free the blockage. The only thing to do is to call a plumber.

“Sanitary backups are typically expensive, straining the city’s sanitary system and wastewater plant, along with the possibility of causing additional public health risks,” he said.

“If you must use a non-biodegradable product, do not flush it,” he warns. Instead, place the material in a plastic bag, seal it and put it in a trash receptacle.

“This simple practice will save you from unnecessary repair costs and help preserve the city’s sanitary system,” Hall said.

He added that flushing non-biodegradable items also harms septic systems and leach fields, so country dwellers also should take heed.

Urbana sewer system customers with issues can call 937-652-4331 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. At other times, call 937-653-3412.
Toilet paper substitutes harm sewer and septic systems

Staff report