KENMORE, NY (WKBW) — “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in wipes and everything from diapers to anything that people could get down their toilet,” stated Michael Kessler, director, Town of Tonawanda Waste & Water Facilities.
Sewer officials are reminding you not to flush items down your toilet. It is creating backed up sewer pipes at homes and damage at treatment facilities.
With COVID-19 causing a shortage of toilet paper, a lot of items are filtering through the treatment plant at the town of Tonawanda waste water facilities.
Kessler says it causes damage to the pumping station and is costly for the town to repair and dump the material at a landfill. That in turn ends up in a taxpayer’s water bill.
Towns, cities and villages are urging you not to flush things like paper towels or even wipes that that claim to be flushable.
“There's a lot of things that are flushable, but they're not biodegradable there is some legislation trying to prevent people from putting that on the product,” explained Kessler.
“But between your house and the treatment plant, like the village of Kenmore, Town of Tonawanda, Cheektowaga — all older areas, the pipes are older, so now you're adding foreign stuff and a lot more cotton stuff and it's getting caught,” remarked Mark Tasca, plumber.
Tasca and his crews were working on a home in Kenmore Tuesday where baby wipes clogged the pipes. He’s seeing an uptick in calls.
“Baby wipes have always been a problem, but if you look at them, actually hold them, you try to pull those apart, they're like pieces of cotton,” Tasca responded.
But this plumber is also finding more unusual items that should never be put down a toilet.
“People are also cleaning out their refrigerators, some stuff that has expired, I mean pot-roast, really they’re just not using common sense,” Tasca replied.
The Cheektowaga sewer department used social media to get the message out to the public. A tweet saying to #flush or not to flush. The town is also seeing a big increase in debris, even rubber gloves and rags.
The Town of Tonawanda just completed a $3 million project to put new screens at the plant to protect the facility from the debris.
Another big item that is not recommending for flushing is paper napkins.
“The only thing that should go down the toilet is toilet paper because it is bio degradable,” Kessler said.
Bottom line advice from the experts.
“Throw it in the garbage,” declared Tasca.