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Lathrop makes plea: Do not flush wipes down your toilet
no wipes

There may be a shortage of available toilet paper, but public officials are warning people not to resort to flushing other things down their toilets.

During an address to Lathrop residents last week, Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore implored people not to flush wipes down the toilet – even if they claim to be flushable on the packaging – because the end result is wreaking havoc on the city’s wastewater infrastructure and causing backups and clogs at pump stations and in pipes.

Sitting with Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann and Lathrop Manteca Fire District Chief Gene Neely, Salvatore spelled out the issues that the city has been facing over the course of the last several weeks – the first of a series of public updates about the COVID-19 virus and the impacts that it will have on local government and emergency response. 

“Our plant is not setup to handle the flushable wipes,” Salvatore said. “Even though they say they’re flushable – they’re not flushable.

“When they get to our plant the pose major problems for us at the plant, and they also cause many collection problems in the system. A lot of times they don’t get past our pumps, or they get stuck in the line, and they’ve caused backups and that forces us to go out there to try and figure out where the problem is.”

The issue is being spurred by a national shortage of toilet paper and the recommendation that people sanitize their homes and commonly-touched areas regularly – often times with premoistened wipes or paper towels that will often find their way into the toilet.

Even wipes that are labeled “flushable” are often not – because they do not separate and come apart the way that toilet paper does when submerged in water, municipal wastewater systems are unable to filter out and separate the wipes the same way which causes backups and clogging.

The message was put out as part of the city’s Emergency Operations Command team, which was polished last fall when the city was preparing for the possibility to existing without power from PG&E for up to a week to deter the possibility of forest fires.

The updates are expected to come regularly as the city moves through the COVID-19 shutdown to keep the public apprised of developments as they occur.

“We are asking everyone please – please – do not flush the wipes,” Salvatore said. “They pose serious problems for us.”

For additional information about developments from the city’s Emergency Operations Command team, email, or call 209.941.5111.

The city is expected to post another video update this evening to keep residents apprised of developments that have occurred over the weekend, and inform people of any new recommendations from health officials at the county, state, or federal level.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.