With the increased use of sanitizing wipes by people in all walks of life — a good thing, with the coronavirus lurking around, threatening to give people COVID-19 — comes a not entirely new problem. People are flushing the wipes down toilets, and causing clogs and backups in the sewer lines and, especially, the pumps.

Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), which oversees the town sewer system, reports that workers at one treatment plant have reported they have to pull wipes out of pumps two to three times a week. The other plant has had at least one incident so far.

While only properties in Ridgefield’s two sewer districts can clog the treatment plant’s pumps, homeowners with their own septic systems — the majority of property owners in town — can also avoid expensive problems by not flushing anything but toilet paper down the toilet.

A release from the WPCA asks people not to put even allegedly “flushable” wipes and similar items into toilets — they can cause nasty problems.

Here’s the WPCA’s earnest request:

Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) officials are asking residents to please refrain from flushing anything other than toilet tissue in their toilets. This is true at all times, but is especially important now as many are wiping down surfaces with disinfectant. Sanitizing wipes, paper towels, and baby wipes should never be flushed down the toilet as they do not dissolve the way toilet tissue does and instead cause blockages and backups in your home and the town’s sewer system.

Even wipes that are labeled and sold as “flushable” are not and should be thrown away in a trash bag. These items get snagged in the pipes, cause a blockage, and then potentially an overflow. They can block the sewer pipes leading out of the house to street connections and private septic systems, as well as damaging equipment in town’s pump stations and the treatment plants creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

At a time when we're washing our hands and wiping down surfaces more frequently, the WPCA is strongly urging citizens and businesses to do their part and help avoid sewer system damage and overflows by disposing of these wipes in the trash rather than flushing them away. In addition to remembering, “wipes clog pipes,” residents should think, ‘when in doubt, throw it out’ in the trash, not the toilet.

We thank the public in advance for your understanding and cooperation.