THUNDER BAY – Keeping Thunder Bay’s sewage treatment plant flowing is critical. Authorities say putting so-called “flushable wipes” and other items down the toilet can cause real issues. Our municipal sewer systems are built to handle human waste and toilet paper that is specifically designed to deteriorate quickly. Anything else put down your toilet or sink causes problems that lead to clogs, blockages and wastewater equipment damage. Any of these situations can shut down sewer systems.
Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) poured down the sink, congeal and line the sewer walls, then ‘so-called flushable’ wipes, paper towels and hygiene products collect together with the grease to form clogs. This can block your toilet, your home sewer line, or form “fatbergs” constricting the sewers of entire neighborhoods. These clogs can also result in overflows of raw sewage into local rivers and lakes.
Raw sewage can back-up into your home and your neighbors’ homes – likely requiring you to evacuate your house for professional cleaning. Large blockages often require municipal staff to clear them, at a time when our efforts and tax dollars need to be focused on critical services.
Thunder Bay has over 33,000 households in Thunder Bay and if only a few hundred people flush just a couple of wipes each adds up incredibly. It does not matter that they say “Flushable or Biodegradable”, the manufacturers will not come and unplug or repair our equipment here in Thunder Bay.
The issue is, of course, bigger than just our city.
“We urge homeowners to remember that toilets are not trash cans”, stated Barry Orr, Sewer Outreach and Control Inspector for the City of London. Barry is also the Canadian spokesman for the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group as well as a researcher at Ryerson University testing the ‘flushability’ of products.
There is never a good time for a toilet to back-up in your home, or the sewer line for your apartment building, or your whole street. “But now, at a time when we are being quarantined or self-isolated at home due to COVID-19, nobody wants a situation that would force you out of your home where you are safest”, observed Robert Haller, Executive Director of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA).
Canadian municipal leaders and wastewater professionals are urging everyone to NOT flush anything but the 3P’s – pee, poop, and toilet paper.
The CWWA knows there has been a rush on toilet paper and that some people may need to consider alternative products. Yes, there are many alternatives, but they CANNOT BE FLUSHED.
The CWWA has been sharing the 3P’s message for years, but it has never been more important than now. Canadian municipalities are seeing a very significant upward spike in the number of clogs attributable to increased use of ‘alternative’ products such as toilet wipes, paper towels and even tissues (that do not break down like toilet paper).