Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 9:00 AM

Don't Flush Disposable Wipes

Wipes

Are you using wipes to get your surfaces disinfected? If you do, make sure you throw them in the garbage, not down the toilet.

Council is worried that the large number of disposable wipes in use to disinfect surfaces of coronavirus may be become another type of problem for both residents and the City staff if they aren’t disposed of properly.

“The treatment of wastewater is a highly mechanical process, and the biggest issues we face are clogged pipes and breakdowns in the rotating machinery that is used to remove solids from wastewater,” explained Councilllor Froude. “By far, the worst culprit is flushable wipes.”

A steady increase in the last few years in the use of “flushable” wipes has had an impact at the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment facility. According to City experts, approximately 25 tons of solid material is removed from wastewater every week and 5 to 10 tons of this is flushable wipes.

It’s natural for people to think items labelled “flushable” can indeed be flushed in the toilet. However, the term flushable only means the items will pass through the pipes; it does not break down like toilet paper which is designed to disintegrate quickly.  In fact, wipes do not break down at all and when flushed, they stick together in the sewer system and create huge rag balls that stop equipment from working properly.

Flushing wipes also has an impact on household pipes. These items get caught in household pipes and can result in sewer backups – a big problem not only for the home owner or their neighbourhood, but for the municipality as well which has to service that back-up.

The simple solution, according to our wastewater experts? Only use your toilet for human waste and toilet paper - everything else should go in the garbage.

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Did you know? 

  • Wastewater from St. John’s, Paradise and Mount Pearl is treated at the Riverhead Wastewater facility. 
  • 70 million gallons of wastewater is treated each day; that’s equivalent to 115 Bowring Park swimming pools.