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People resorting to toilet paper alternatives could hurt sewer system

Posted at 5:57 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 20:58:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Some people out of toilet paper are apparently resorting to more desperate measures. Wastewater officials say they are starting to see items that can clog pipes and gum up the communities sewer system.

Pima County Wastewater says this could become a big issue for public health and cost you hundreds of dollars when you need to call a plumber. It could also damage wastewater pumps that could cost thousands of dollars to repair and that cost would be passed on to the tax payer.

"People are flushing underwear, socks, paper towels like rolls of paper towel," said Spartan Plumbing Plumber Charles Zimmerman.

Some plumbers in our area have seen an increase in calls for clogs. They want people to know that even some things that say flushable or disposable can cause you a problem.

"Those flushable wipes baby wipes or things like that yeah they’ll flush but they don’t say they’ll go down the sewer and they definitely don’t dissolve like toilet paper," said Zimmerman.

Director of Pima County Wastewater Jackson Jenkins wants people to know this in not a hoax.

"It's not a rumor these are real things ending up in the sewer that are not supposed to be there," said Jenkins.

Jenkins says despite some bizarre items turning up at pumps and treatment plants there isn't a major issue in our area yet, but he wants to get the message out before it becomes one.

"Our mission is to protect the public health. People don’t think a lot about the wastewater utility and what it does, but we protect the public health and keep the materials in the sewer system out of public life."

The county and plumbers we talked to say its very simple. Anything other than toilet paper needs to be put in the trash and taken out that way.