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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. 

City Water Safe For Drinking and Washing; Current Treatment Methods Protect Against COVID-19 and other Viruses

Post Date:03/16/2020 12:33 PM

The City of San Luis Obispo understands the concerns expressed by community members regarding the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. During this time, there have been several questions regarding the water supplied to the community by the City. We want to assure the community that our water is both safe and reliable and have provided answers to questions we have received.

Is my drinking water safe?

Yes. The City of San Luis Obispo’s water is safe to drink. The City wants to reassure our customers, the water at their tap continues to be of the highest quality and is completely safe to drink. There is no threat to your public drinking water supply and no need to use bottled water. The City’s water treatment processes are specifically designed to protect the public from all viruses and harmful bacteria. According the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), current treatment methods used by the City of San Luis Obispo will disinfect water for viruses, including COVID-19. The City also maintains a small and safe amount of chlorine within its water pipelines to ensure that the water delivered remains safe after it leaves the water treatment plant and is delivered to our community.

Is tap water safe to use for hand washing?

Yes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that we continue to use and drink tap water as usual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Will water continue be available?

 Yes. The City’s Utilities Department employs over 70 staff to ensure we maintain sufficient staffing requirements. Our water and wastewater facilities staff are utilizing social distancing practices, have ceased public tours of facilities, and have adequate supplies on hand to perform their duties. Additionally, we are taking steps to protect our employees’ health and safety by sharing ways to avoid the spread of illness and requesting they stay home when sick. We have also implemented additional infection control measures including increasing the frequency of workplace cleaning, cancelling non-essential business travel, and utilizing teleconferencing in place of in-person meetings where feasible. The community can rely on the City for a safe supply of water.

Can I pay my water and sewer bill from home?

In order to support social distancing and limit person to person contact, the following options are always available to pay your bill at no additional charge and for other water account needs:

Phone: (805) 781-7133 press "1" for our free automated payment service



Bill Drop Box: located outside of City Hall

Let us know if you need assistance with paying your bill.

 We understand these times can be challenging. To ease the stress of this rapidly changing situation, effective immediately, water service will not be terminated for non-payment of customer bills due to financial difficulty directly resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. We encourage customers to continue to pay what they can so that their overall balance does not grow to become insurmountable. This temporary policy will remain in effect until further notice. Once the current public health crisis has passed, normal policies will be restored.

 If you have questions about paying your utility bill, please contact our Utility Billing Department for help specific to your needs.  Please visit for the latest public health updates and recommendations or call the Public Health information line at (805) 788-2903. 

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