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People warned not to flush anything but toilet paper down toilet


Last updated 4/1/2020 at 8:45am

Havre Daily News staff

A common topic in the news is a shortage of toilet paper, and many people are experiencing it themselves.

For some unexplained reason, people are stocking up on toilet paper in huge amounts, leading to empty shelves in stores, including in north-central Montana.

The shortage may be causing people to use alternatives to toilet paper such as baby wipes, paper napkins or paper towels, but the Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority — MMIA — issued a warning about another problem that can cause — clogging and damage to the local sewer system if they are flushed down the toilet.

The website howstuffworks.com explains why that happens.

“Toilet paper easily dissolves in water in a process that takes anywhere from one to four minutes,” the website’s entry on “What’s the Difference Between Toilet Paper and Tissuse?” says. “Toilet paper’s quick-dissolve qualities are engineered to help it pass through pipes or septic systems, and to be processed by municipal sewer treatment plants.”

This is why no product but toilet paper should be flushed down a toilet, as even facial tissues do not properly break down to easily pass through sewer systems and be processed in wastewater treatment plants.

“If you are running short on toilet paper and opt to use paper towels or wipes of any kind — even those marked ‘flushable’ — please do not flush!” the release from MMIA said. “You may think flushing a single paper towel or wipe each trip to the bathroom is not a big deal, but those flushes add up. Items other than toilet paper can clog the sewer.”

The release said clogging sewers can endanger public health and the environment. It can also cause damage to the sewage system and sewage treatment plant and damage homes and property.

“This damage is costly to you and the city. Remember, service lines from your house to the sewer main are your responsibility,” the release said.

Instead of flushing paper towels or wipes, they must be thrown in the trash, the releases said, adding, to keep homes clean and healthy, people should remove the trash regularly and place it in a secure garbage bin outside.


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