Out of TP in DeKalb? Please don’t flush paper towels and wipes

A sewer pipe clogged by paper towels and wipes. SPECIAL PHOTO / DEKALB COUNTY

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A sewer pipe clogged by paper towels and wipes. SPECIAL PHOTO / DEKALB COUNTY

DeKalb County leaders know some folks have had trouble getting their hands on toilet paper recently, with coronavirus fears fueling stock-depleting runs on grocery stores.

But they’re reminding residents that flushing other options — like wipes and paper towels — can clog pipes and exacerbate sewer issues.

Even “flushable” wipes should only be disposed of in the trash. They do not biodegrade properly in the sewer system.

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“We want to eliminate any other potential public health threats, especially during this COVID-19 crisis,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release.

“Along with keeping fats, oils and grease out of the drains, keeping paper towels and wipes out of our sewer pipes is a step the public can take to prevent the spread of disease.”

DeKalb County is under a federal consent decree to fix its aging, spill-prone sewer system. It will not meet the original deadline in June but an extension is being negotiated.

While many of DeKalb’s sewer spills are driven by weather — with stormwater entering the system and forcing waste out — the county also has issues with clogs and back-ups.

At least three spills reported last week were attributed to grease blockages or paper debris.