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

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

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.

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