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The disgusting mess clogging Halifax’s sewers during COVID-19

Plastic gloves and disposable wipes are clogging up the Halifax sewer system.
Plastic gloves and disposable wipes are clogging up the Halifax sewer system. Halifax Water/Twitter

As more Nova Scotians stay home in order to comply with the province’s state of emergency, it’s putting a strain on Halifax’s sewer system.

New photos released by Halifax Water on Friday give a good picture of what employees at the utility company are facing as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in their own way.

They show “disposable wipes” and plastic gloves gathered into piles of brown and off-white material.

READ MORE: During pandemic, Halifax Water urges public not to flush so-called ‘flushable’ wipes

Halifax Water has already issued a warning about the use of so-called “flushable” wipes.

They are not actually meant to be flushed down the toilet and don’t break down like toilet paper does.

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So-called flushable wipes are not actually flushable and can cause a back-up in sewer lines, Halifax Water says.
So-called flushable wipes are not actually flushable and can cause a back-up in sewer lines, Halifax Water says. Halifax Water/Twitter

As a result, they can cause messy clogs, Halifax Water said in a tweet.

“When residents are quarantining or self-isolating at home due to COVID-19, nobody wants to be out of their residence due to a sewer back-up.”

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Halifax Water spokesperson James Campbell told Global News last month that it doesn’t want to have to deal with clogs as it works to keep essential services up and running.

“Diverting valuable resources of time and equipment to a situation that’s a hundred per cent preventable is not the way to go,” he said.

Halifax Water board voted in favour of replacing lead pipes, covering costs for customers
Halifax Water board voted in favour of replacing lead pipes, covering costs for customers

Halifax Water will clear up any clogs from the sewer main in the street up to the property line, but Campbell cautioned homeowners that they’re on their own if a blockage forms in the home.

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“Accessing a plumber might not be all that easy at this time period,” he said. “In the meantime, you’ve got all this sewage in your basement which is potentially very hazardous that you have to deal with.”

The best idea to dispose of wet wipes and plastic gloves is to throw them in the garbage.

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The utility also warned that in the midst of trying to fix such a mess, government instructions on social distancing may be compromised, posing a serious health risk to workers and homeowners.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

With files from Global News’ Elizabeth McSheffrey