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The Public Advised to NOT Flush Disinfecting Wipes, Paper Towels down Toilet – Throw Them Away instead 

State’s Wastewater Treatment Plants May get Overwhelmed, 

Consumers may face In-home Plumbing backups and Blockages 

SACRAMENTO – While the State Water Board and other public agencies encourage Californians to follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations to clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is important to discard those items in the trash, not the toilet. 

Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Even wipes labeled 
“flushable” will clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment throughout the state.  

Wastewater treatment facilities around the state already are reporting issues with their sewer management collection systems. These facilities are asking state residents to not discard wipes in the toilet, but instead to throw them in the trash to avoid backups and overflow. A majority of urban centers are on centralized sewage collection systems depend on gravity and enough water flow to move along human waste and biodegrable toilet paper. The systems were not designed for individual nylon wipes and paper towels. The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly. 
Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer system and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems. Many spills go to our lakes, rivers, and oceans where they have broad ranging impacts on public-health and the environment. Preventing sewer spills is important, especially during this COVID-19 emergency, for the protection of public health and the environment.  

Please do not flush disinfectant wipes or paper towels down the toilet. 

Flume Smart Water Devices Available to City Residents for $10

Post Date:06/24/2019 2:49 PM

In 2016, the City was contacted by a team of Cal Poly students developing a device and associated software to monitor water use through a non-intrusive means (does not require home plumbing alteration). This device connects to the customer’s wi-fi connection and provides up-to-the-minute leak detection and water use monitoring via the customer’s smart phone. During the first few years of this project, City staff offered technical expertise on how water meters function, allowed the students to borrow used water meters for testing, and field tested one unit to help identify water leaks at customers’ homes.

After years of refinement, the Flume Smart Water System is being offered to 250 City of San Luis Obispo water customers for a reduced price of $10/unit (normal retail is $199). This reduced price allows for a collaborative effort between Flume, Cal Poly, the City of San Luis Obispo, and American Modern Insurance. The joint program and resulting study intend to:

• Monitor water usage behavior to gauge the impact of the Flume system on household water conservation.
• Identify the percentage of homeowners who detect leaks upon installation and determine the percentage of those who fix the identified leaks.
• Seek other quantifiable data that is useful in better understanding how smart devices may help conserve water and reduce water leaks.

Each customer who purchases a Flume device for a discounted price will be required to sign a participation agreement which outlines their approval to be part of this study. The City of San Luis Obispo has made no monetary investment in the 250 units and has been brought into the partnership to assist with reaching out to residents who may be interested in the product. As a result of participation in the project, the City will have access to the water usage and leak detection data. Information on participants’ water consumption and personal information will not be made public as part of this study. The study is scheduled to last for one year and the customer data will not be tracked after conclusion of the study.

To learn more about this project or to purchase a device, please visit:

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