By JAMES BELL
With toilet paper being a hot commodity as the COVID-19 crisis continues, area water departments are reminding residents they should be aware of the dangers of flushing anything other than toilet paper.
"During the toilet paper shortage of 2020, PLEASE do NOT flush other materials such as paper towels, tissues, napkins, baby wipes or other ‘flushable’ wipes down the toilet," the city of Ellis shared on social media. "These materials cannot disintegrate properly, which can clog sewer pipes, cause sewer line breaks, and puts strain on our local wastewater treatment facility. Thank you for your cooperation!"
"We are definitely trying to get the message out there, do not flush anything but toilet paper," said Jeff Crispin, Hays director of water resources.
He said problems stemming from flushing any item are likely to impact homes before they hit the system and could cause backups in residential plumbing systems.
"The homeowner may know first," Crispin said."The problem usually begins at the homeowner's private line."
If they do make it out of the home's system the material will quickly make it to the water treatment facility, which forces equipment to work harder to filter out the material, which does not dissolve the same way regular toilet paper does in water.
"As it makes it to the wastewater treatment plant there is equipment there to keep that material screened out at the first part of the process, so we would see higher run times on equipment, and more equipment maintenance being required at the plant."
He said they do a good job keeping sewer lines clear, cleaning about 20 percent of the sewer system each year.
"We have a healthy system, because of the ongoing maintenance that we have performed over the last few years," Crispin said. "I am happy with our system, but we do need everybody's help to control what is flushed."