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Pandemic Pandemonium: Utilities, Don’t Let Your Users Engage in Malpractice

By Tami Tanoue, CIRSA Executive Director

As we know, there seems to be a dire shortage of toilet paper in our nation right now. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say there are TP plutocrats and TP paupers these days. Me? I purchased a big case of TP…back in 2019…and it sits in my garage today. Why, you ask? Because, well, please don’t ask me to explain my Amazon buying habits.

Anyhow, TP paupers may be resorting to substitutes of all kinds…tissues, baby wipes, kitchen wipes, so-called “flushable” wipes, paper towels, kale leaves (that one’s my own speculation), and who knows what else. Could this create a problem for wastewater departments everywhere? It most certainly could!

I’ve already argued with a number of people who nonchalantly revealed on social media that they didn’t care about running out of TP, because they had plenty of Kleenex, “flushable” wipes, etc., and their toilets wouldn’t know the difference. So the public lack of understanding about the delicate, yes delicate! nature of the public sanitation system is real.

CIRSA members, let’s make sure our citizens get a timely reminder about what to flush and what not to flush. Pueblo’s doing a nice job of this. Here’s an example of a webpage reminder. Perhaps an insert in the utility bill or article in the city or town newsletter would be helpful.

Making sure the public is well-informed on this issue will not only be good for sanitation systems, but it will have a downstream benefit for your friendly CIRSA claims adjuster. After all, you know what rolls downhill! The prevention of customer malpractice against the sewer system will lead to fewer sewer backups, fewer upset citizens, and, we hope, fewer claims that might have to be denied.

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