For the second time in a week, Cape Ann public works departments are urging residents that their toilets are not the place to dispose of disinfecting wipes.

"During this difficult time we know many people are using disinfectant wipes in their homes. We urge you not flush non-flushable items down the toilet," said the Gloucester DPW. "We cannot stress this enough, thank you and stay safe!"

Although many wipes say they are flushable, they bind together causing massive waste-infused wads, according to the Rockport DPW.

"As the use of disinfecting wipes increases during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we have noticed that many of these wipes are being flushed down the toilet and ending up in our sewer pump stations, causing maintenance problems for the Sewer Treatment Plant. In an effort to prevent sewer clogs at our sewer pump stations, we urge you to not flush disinfecting wipes and other 'rags' down the toilet, only toilet paper. Toilet paper breaks apart easily in wastewater," the Rockport DPW said in an alert sent to residents Tuesday and posted on its Facebook page.

Gloucester had not seen any maor issues as of Tuesday morning, said Matthew Burgard, a spokesman for Veolia North America, which has operated the city's water and sewer treatment plants since 2009.

"We're seeing some problems at DPWs in neighboring communities that are really bad," said Burgard. "We want to nip it in the bud."

The proper way to dispose of non-flushable items is to simply throw them away in a trash container.

"Please dispose of disinfectant wipes in a trash bag, NOT the recycling bin," added the Gloucester DPW.

Rockport's DPW was a little more blunt on its page of the town website: "It's a toilet, not a trash can."

It said other items that should not be flushed down the toilet include baby wipes, tampons, sanitary products, cigarettes, medicines, paper towels, dental floss, cotton balls and swabs, cat litter, condoms, facial tissues, cooking oil, greases and food.

Andrea Holbrook may be contacted at

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