Can’t Find Toilet Paper?
HARLAN – Grocery stores and other outlets don’t have toilet paper, or when they do, it’s sold out immediately.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, customers are choosing to stock up on toilet paper, leaving shelves at local, state and national retail outlets empty. Walk into any store that provides commodities and it’s apparent these items are sold out immediately.
That’s concerning, said Harlan Wastewater Superintendent Steve Kenkel, who said this week they’re seeing an increase in unacceptable items coming to their plant. Paper towels, flushable wipes and even rags are being used by Harlan residents instead, and that can cause serious problems at the plant.
“This week we have seen an increase in unacceptable items coming through our plant. Paper towels, flushable wipes, and even rags are being used by Harlan residents and that can cause serious problems,” said Kenkel.
“Those flushable wipes - even though they are marked as ‘flushable,” should not be sent down the toilet. They get into the pumps and plug them up. It’s actually been a problem for a while, but now, this can turn into a disaster.
“If our pumps go down, your basements could fill up,” he added.
The city wastewater plant consists of two lift stations that funnel waste out to the plant southeast of town. When residents flush things they shouldn’t, this creates issues.
While the items can be ground up, it causes unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment which causes increased opportunity for failure.
The following is a list of unacceptable items that should never be flushed.
• Disinfecting/surface wipes Mop or Swiffer type refills
• Disposable diapers or diaper liners - First Aid wipes
• Feminine Hygiene products - Baby Wipes
• Jewelry/Cosmetic wipes - Pet care wipes
• Cotton Swabs - Paper towels
• Toilet cleaning pads ANY moist towelettes
• Any consumer item that is not toilet paper
“Toilet paper is the only material that actually breaks down properly, so use that if at all possible,” said Kenkel. “If not available and you have to use an alternative please dispose of it in the garbage.”
Kenkel said he has contacted the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to ask that a bulletin be issued about proper procedures.
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