Responding to reports of COVID 19-related impacts of the increase in flushing of non-toilet paper products that are creating clogging problems in the system for the San Francisco Bay Area wastewater treatment plants, BACWA  issued a Community Advisory:

Clogged sewer systems are a risk to the environment, public health and public safety. When the COVID 19 emergency began, BACWA has received numerous reports about Bay Area wastewater systems experiencing increases in sewage backups and spills. These events appeared to be due to congestion from improper disposal of disinfectant wipes, paper towels and other paper products that do not easily break down in water like toilet paper.

It is important to maintain operational efficiency at the Bay Area’s wastewater plants to ensure reliable and safe operation. Users share in this responsibility by making the right choices about what to put in their toilets. The only paper product designed for wastewater systems is toilet paper. Other products like paper towels facial tissues and disposable wipes (even if labeled flushable) are made with stronger fibers that can include plastics, nylon and other materials that resist breaking down. These products must be disposed of in the trash. 

Due to shortages of toilet paper during the early stages of the COVID 19 emergency, some households began using other paper products such as paper towels or disposable wipes. The appropriate way to dispose of these paper products is to seal them in plastic bags and put them in the trash. Some bathroom wipes products are marketed as “flushable” but in fact, none of these products should be flushed down the toilet. 

On behalf of our member agencies that provide wastewater services to more than 7 million Bay Area residents, we are asking the public’s cooperation to avoid flushing any paper products except for toilet paper. Remember, wipes clog pipes. Visit for more information.