Photo Courtesy of New Windsor, Md. Mayor Neal C. Roop

Md. Warns, “No Wipes in the Pipes” to Stop Sewage Overflows

It’s an unwanted side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: toilet paper “alternatives” and disinfectant wipes are suddenly being flushed down toilets more than usual. That’s a problem because things like wipes, tissues and paper towels can cause clog pipes, cause sewage backups and send overflows into our waterways.

At a time when everyone is sanitizing surfaces against COVID-19, buying Clorox or Lysol wipes in bulk, and many folks are “getting creative” as they start running out of toilet paper, some people may be tempted to flush these products. Don’t–they should be thrown in the trash.

It’s not a pleasant topic, but the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) wants to prevent sewage backups and overflows before they cause bacteria levels to spike, causing threats to both public health and the ecosystem.

“Communities in Maryland understand the value of our sewers and treatment plants and the fact that clean water begins at home with proper disposal of wipes and other materials,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.

If you think the “flushable wipes” you can buy in the toilet paper aisle are safe to flush, think again. Baltimore-Washington area contracting company Len the Plumber explains on their website that even though these wipes do eventually break down, the process is much slower than it is for toilet paper, making wipes more prone to clogging.

-Meg Walburn Viviano