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Wastewater Division Warning to Customers

In the Absence of Toilet Paper: Do NOT Flush Paper Towels, Kleenex & Wipes

LAKELAND, FL (March 19, 2020) | The City of Lakeland Wastewater Division warns those sheltering at home due to coronavirus concerns: Never flush any hygiene products other than toilet paper down your toilet. “Baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, paper towels or anything that isn’t actual toilet paper, must go directly into the trash,” said Bill Anderson, Director of Water Utilities.  When flushed, these products clog sewer pipes and pump stations, increase utility maintenance, create environmental concerns and cause extra work throughout the wastewater system. 

Due to a spike in demand spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, Wastewater Managers worry that with toilet paper flying off the shelves in grocery stores and retail outlets, consumers are purchasing large quantities of wipes, paper towels, facial tissues, and napkins. If these items are used as substitutes for toilet paper, they should never be flushed because they are not biodegradable. Anderson said, “They wreak havoc on our system and a homeowner’s very own plumbing…Please don’t flush those down the toilet.”  

Sanitary sewer systems are designed to accommodate toilet paper, which is made to disintegrate quickly in water. It is proven that wipes, diapers and other materials don’t break down as readily and tend to clog pipes. That could mean sewer backups into homes and clogs may form down the line impacting others. While disposable wipes are a convenient and easy-to-use product that serves a variety of helpful purposes, many Americans may be using them incorrectly. Whether it's flushing non-flushable wipes or using antibacterial products to excess, misusing disposable wipes can create costly problems. All wipes will easily flush down your toilet but that's where the unseen problems begin. The video below, created a few years ago, shows Lakeland Water customers that even over time and agitation, these products do not breakdown and can’t be processed correctly.

In the video from left to right: Toilet paper, Kleenex with lotion, and a disinfectant wipe after 5 days submerged in water with agitation.

Video by Kim Russel Goldener


Kevin Cook
Director of Communications
City of Lakeland

About Lakeland

The City of Lakeland was incorporated in January 1885 and has grown to become one of the largest inland communities in Florida.  With a current population of over 100,000, Lakeland continues to grow. It has been designated a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area by the US Census Bureau for over 30 years.  With tourist attractions and gulf beaches only an hour away, Lakeland continues to capitalize on its ideal central Florida location along the I-4 corridor.  The City owns and operates Lakeland Electric, the third-largest publicly owned utility in Florida and it was one of the first to offer power in the Sunshine State over 110 years ago.



For additional information about the City of Lakeland, please explore lakelandgov.net.
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