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EPCOR asks Albertans to watch what they flush as disinfectant wipe use soars

Officials are asking Albertans not to flush cleaning products or toilet paper alternatives down the toilet. .
Officials are asking Albertans not to flush cleaning products or toilet paper alternatives down the toilet. . Allison Bench / Global News

EPCOR is issuing a warning — ahead of any issues — in hopes that Albertans will roll with the COVID-19 situation and stick to flushing toilet paper only.

“We know that people are using more flushable wipes, more cleaning wipes, and paper towel at this time,” said EPCOR spokesperson Kelly Struski.

“We do want to remind them that all of those items should not be going into the drainage system.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus can last on surfaces for days — experts say cleaning is key

The warning comes following some strange situations around the world, as toilet paper remains in high demand — despite direct orders from officials not to hoard or stockpile. 

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In Redding, Calif., last week, the city’s sewer system backed up and officials found shredded t-shirts clogging the pipes. Officials in that city said that if residents were using alternative or creative products to wipe, they should bag them instead of flush.

READ MORE: Californians using — and flushing — T-shirts instead of toilet paper, causing sewage backup amid coronavirus spread

New coronavirus has people panic-buying
New coronavirus has people panic-buying

While EPCOR said it hasn’t experienced any issues with its drainage system at this time, it is warning people to be careful to prevent a similar situation.

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“Only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet —any of those other materials, if they are flushed, do increase the chance of blockages in sewer pipes and sewer backups,”  Struski said.

“It’s always good advice to follow, it’s just particularly important at this time.”

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READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Market forces can help discourage coronavirus panic buying and replenish store shelves

Struski added that EPCOR is working to transition its employees to working from home — with 1,900 of its 3,600 workers in Edmonton making the switch last week.

There are still employees working on essential maintenance and repairs to ensure water and electricity continues to work, but even with more and more Edmontonians working at home, there hasn’t been much of a noticeable increase in residential use yet, said Struski.

“As time goes on we will see an increase in residential water use, it’s just a bit too early to see that pattern right now,” she said.

EPCOR operates municipal water and wastewater treatment centres in Edmonton and other Alberta communities, and provides the electricity service in Edmonton.