The City of Salem would like to remind residents not to flush masks, paper towels, disinfecting or flushable wipes of any type down the toilet. 

Flushing these items causes stress on the wastewater treatment facility.

“We want to keep our City safe and healthy, and one way we can ensure this happens is by keeping our wastewater plant running efficiently by remembering to only flush toilet paper,” said Mayor Justin Green. 

Due to a continued increase in the volume of harmful items that can cause issues with the city’s wastewater treatment operations, Green recently made the following notice available from Wastewater Superintendent, Troy Watts:

“We are seeing an uptick of problems at the wastewater treatment plant due to discarded masks and wipes being flushed. Please remember sewer systems can get clogged when improper items are put down the drain or flushed. This can cause backups and overflow at our treatment facilities, which can create additional public health concerns. It is also advisable to refrain from flushing paper towels or wipes labeled as “flushable” or “septic-safe” as some wipes with this label can still cause issues with wastewater systems,” said Superintendent Watts.

Mayor Green and Watts remind residents never to flush masks, even those made of paper, and that flushable wipes must have 3 main qualities:

  1. They must break down quickly into small pieces,
    2. They should not be buoyant or float,
    3. They should only be made of ingredients that will easily and naturally degrade.

Green and Watts ask for your help in keeping the system operating and functioning well, particularly during this time. 

“Please be mindful that used masks, disinfecting, and other wipes, including paper towels and baby wipes, should only be placed in the trash,” said Green. 

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