By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
People have heavily stockpiled disinfectant wipes in the last few weeks due to concerns of the coronavirus.
However those wipes are not to be flushed down the toilet instead put them in the garbage.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a release addressing the concern this week and asking citizens to dispose of any sort of product in their household garbage rather than the toilet.
Items such as disposable wipes and paper towels may be listed as “flushable” but can cause damage to wastewater treatment and collection systems creating clogs, backups, pump failures an sewer overflows.
Current rain conditions also add to these problems.
“An increasing number of people are currently at home and consuming more wipes and paper towels than normal,” said MDEQ Interim Executive Director Chris Wells in the release. “We are advising people to remember that toilets and wastewater systems are not designed to process those types of things, which we consider to be trash.”
Within the last year, Keith Christopher of Inframark and Cleveland Public Works Director Ray Bell have made similar requests, citing the damage and hassle that can be done to drainage systems, especially during times of heavy rain.
Items found in Cleveland’s sewer system have included diapers, sanitary napkins, and chicken bones, all of which are not suitable for flushing.
Toilet paper has specific manufacturing qualities that allow it to dissolve in septic tanks and sewers, qualities that are lacking in other products.
Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups and impacts to wastewater collection and treatment systems.
Many centralized sewage collection systems depend on gravity and water flow to move human waste and biodegrable toilet paper.
Other items in the system can result in backups and spills that can cause discharges to the state’s waterbodies creating public health and environmental issues.
“Please dispose of these items properly with your other household garbage,” said Wells.
In a previous story, Bell explained if the Environmental Protection Agency or Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality catches someone unlawfully putting something into drains, a person could be arrested and charged.
Cleveland also has an ordinance with fines attached against putting lawn clippings and leaves in storm drains.
“It costs the city money to clean out these drains and ditches. That’s your money and it’s money we could be using in other areas,” he said.