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Durham Region reminds residents to think before they flush disposable wipes

DURHAM: With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, residents may be increasingly using disposable sanitizing wipes to disinfect or toilet paper alternatives. Unfortunately, some people are flushing these items in their toilet and this has already caused significant and costly blockages in Durham Region’s sanitary sewer system. It is important to note that these conditions have the high potential of raw sewage back-ups into the basement of peoples’ homes. The Region of Durham, Works Department, is urging residents to only flush the three Ps–poo, pee and toilet paper. Durham’s municipal sewer systems are built to handle human waste and toilet paper, which is specifically designed to deteriorate quickly, unlike wipes. Anything else being put down the toilet or sink causes problems that leads to clogs, blockages, damaged waste water equipment and sewage back-ups flooding basements. When fats, oils and grease are poured down the sink, they congeal and line the sewer walls, and these non-flushable items such as disposable wipes, paper towels and other hygiene products such as tampons, collect together with the grease to form clogs. This can cause a block in your toilet, your home sewer line, or form larger “fatbergs” which constrict the sewers of entire neighbourhoods. These clogs can also result in overflows of raw sewage into local rivers and lakes. Raw sewage can back-up into your home and your neighbours’ homes, which will likely require you to evacuate your house for professional cleaning. Large blockages often require Regional staff to clear them, at a time when our efforts and tax dollars need to be focused on other critical services during this pandemic response. Residents should also be aware that while some items are marketed as “flushable” in stores, such as so-called “flushable” wipes, are not flushable in Durham’s sanitary sewer system. All wipes should be disposed of in the garbage can, not in the toilet. To learn more, visit

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