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While our public agencies encourage residents to follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations to clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is important to discard those items in the trash, not the toilet.
Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause major backups and overflows in our distribution system and residents homes, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Even wipes labeled “flushable” will clog pipes and interfere with the sewage collection system throughout the Town.
Wastewater treatment facilities and pumping stations around the state already are reporting issues with their sewer management collection systems. We are asking residents to not discard wipes in the toilet, but instead to throw them in the trash to avoid backups and overflows. Longmeadow’s sewage collection system depends on gravity and enough water flow to move along human waste and biodegradable toilet paper. The system was not designed for these types of disinfectant wipes and paper towels.
The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems quickly.
Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems. Many spills go into our rivers and oceans where they have broad ranging impacts on public-health and the environment. Preventing sewer spills is important, especially during this COVID-19 emergency, for the protection of public health and the environment.
Please do not flush disinfectant wipes or paper towels down the toilet
Peter W. Thurber
Assistant DPW Director