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Wipes, paper towels causing sewer backups

Upper Truckee Sewer has experienced backup from paper towels and wipes.
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The California State Water Resource Control Board is urging the public to not flush disinfecting wipes or paper towels down the toilet.

According to a press release from the board, “flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down the toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatments facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Wastewater treatment facilities are reporting issues with their sewer management collection.

They are asking the public to throw those items away in the trash can, including wipes that are labeled flushable as they are among the leading causes of sewer system backups.

South Lake Tahoe Public Utilities Department has experienced issues, with a clogged valve at Upper Truckee Sewer.

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“We are seeing an increase in the number of disposable wipes in our wastewater system,” says Chris Stanley, Manager of Field Operations, in a press release. “These wipes clog up our system and are the main cause of sewer spills. During this pandemic, we need our crews’ focused on providing safe, clean drinking water and reliable wastewater services, instead of responding to an easily preventable sewer spill.”

Incline Village General Improvement District has not had issues yet but they are communicating with the public to prevent any issues.

“Fortunately we have not had any issues to report,” said IVGID Interim General Manager Indra Winquest. “However we are practicing preventative and proactive communication.”

IVGID has sent out a flyer to residents reminding them to only flush toilet paper and human waste.

Winquest also reminds people that flushing items that don’t break down can cause backups in your building, can cause blockage in the sewer mains, cause delays on employees at the sorting plants and can damage pumps; all of which not only have significant financial impact but could also have environmental impacts, if the sewage overflows into rivers, streams and the lake.

“The bottom line is they can cause damage to our ecosystem, damage to your building, extra maintenance to the mains and pumps, additional treatment time and costs,” Winquest said. “End result is increased costs to the customer. Please think before you flush. Instead use a garbage can to dispose of these non-flushable items. Happy flushing.”


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