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People flushing paper towels, wipes instead of toilet paper putting sewage system at risk

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(Photo: WZTV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - As people continue to hoard toilet paper and other goods, the Murfreesboro Water Resource Center in Tennessee is having to work harder than ever. They’re dealing with blockages created by people using paper towels or wipes in lieu of toilet paper. Now, they’re begging the public for their help.


A public health issue that has to do with sewage is the last thing we want to think about while dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

However, Director of Murfreesboro’s Water Resource Department, Darren Gore, says that’s what we’re in for if people don’t change their habits.

“To keep it as simple as possible, the only thing that is supposed to be disposed of down the toilet and into the sewage system is toilet paper,” Gore said.

With empty shelves and people hoarding toilet paper, many turn to using paper towels, cloths, or wipes.

“While they technically may be flushable in your home toilet, they really wreak havoc on the sanitary sewage system,” Gore said.

He says they end up clogging pumps, which not only requires his staff to do more work during this crisis, but also puts the public at risk.

“If that pump station fails, then the sewer starts to back up just like it would in maybe your home if you have a clog, and that sewer comes out of manholes and may actually back up into people’s homes, which is a direct impact to public health,” Gore said.

Now, they’re begging the public to do their part to keep a bad situation from getting even worse.

The Water Resource Department is one of those essential departments that’s operating around the clock. The director tells WZTV they’re practicing social distancing and even spreading employees to work week on week off to keep their entire department healthy so they can keep serving the public.