Can't Find Toilet Paper During COVID-19 Outbreak? NPU Says Don't Flush Wipes Instead

The team at Norwich Public Utilities says wipes and paper towels do not break down properly when flushed.

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Stores across Connecticut are out of toilet paper. Amidst the news of the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers chose to stock up on toilet paper leaving empty shelves across the state.

The lack of toilet paper has left utility workers across Connecticut concerned. The team at Norwich Public Utilities said they are worried that people will start using wipes or paper towels instead.

"They do not break down," said Larry Sullivan, Wastewater Operations Manager for NPU. "As they go down the pipes, they get into a big ball."

Sullivan said that even when wipes are labeled, "flushable," they should not be flushed. Any material that is flushed, not including toilet paper, does not break-down properly. It ends up clogging grates and pumps across the city. Sullivan said that toilet paper is the only material that breaks down properly.

The Town of South Windsor has the same concern. The Public Works team posted on Facebook yesterday that four of their 11 pump stations had clogged pumps due to sanitizing wipes and paper towels.

"These items are not designed to breakup when wet," the team wrote.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Sullivan is concerned that the NPU team will be overwhelmed with calls for back-ups and clogged pumps, creating a strain on limited resources.

“That stuff has ramifications. We have a limited staff we are worried about illnesses on our own staff and the availability to take care of clogs in grates and pumps in the system,” said Sullivan.

The team encourages everyone to only flush toilet paper.

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