State Board Reminds Public Not to Flush Wipes or Paper Towels

By on March 19, 2020

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and other public agencies are reminding Californians that disinfecting wipes and paper towels should never be flushed down the toilet and to throw them away instead.

Flushing wipes, paper towels and other similar products, (even ones that say they are flushable), will clog sewers and cause backups at wastewater treatment facilities. This would create an additional public health risk on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A majority of urban centers are on centralized sewage collection systems that depend on gravity and enough water flow to move along human waste and biodegrable toilet paper. The systems were not designed for individual nylon wipes and paper towels. The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly.

Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer system and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems. Many spills go to our lakes, 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.