A lot has been made of the toilet paper hoarding during this COVID-19 crisis, but there is a potential side effect to people using alternatives to toilet paper, according to Joseph Alosso, former superintendent for both the Edgartown and Oak Bluffs wastewater systems.
“The Island towns Water Pollution Control Departments would like to ask the residents of the island for some help during these uncertain times,” he wrote. “They understand that supplies are low, and some people have resorted to using wet wipes, and paper towels for their personal hygiene. The Island systems are not designed to handle paper towels or hand wipes, even if they’re marked flushable.The real truth is that they are not, and there is no real standard for placing this on a label other than for marketing purposes.”
There have been published reports about pumps and pipes getting clogged in other Massachusetts towns, as a result, Alosso wrote. The New York Times had a story about the problem nationwide on Sunday.
“If you are unable to get toilet paper, facial tissues, as well as washcloths and handkerchiefs (old school) would be your next best option for the system,” he wrote. “[The superintendents] understand this is a trying time and they appreciate anything you can do to help prevent blockages in the collection system and pump stations.”