Increased demand for disinfectant wipes are clogging city sewers

Ethan Johannes / May 15, 2020

NW Langley Waste Water Treatment Plant
(Ethan Johannes/BCIT Magazine)

We all saw how cleaning products were wiped from shelves in anticipation of COVID-19. With families being confined to their homes and using more disinfectant wipes, there is an increase in sewage cloggings throughout Metro Vancouver.

Wipes aren’t being disposed of properly and are costing Metro Vancouver, municipalities, and homeowners hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Municipalities in Canada spend 250 million dollars a year on damaged wastewater infrastructure according to the Municipal Enforcements Sewer Use Group.

“While an estimated $100,000 is typically spent on declogging regional pump stations, hundreds of thousands dollars more are spent on replacing damaged equipment,” – Connie Ye, Policy Analyst for Metro Vancouver

Plumbing companies are also seeing an increase in business due to COVID-19. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials made a statement on March 11th, 2020, on safety measures for all plumbers across the globe.

There is an expectation of the highest sanitation and safety precautions like personal protective equipment, including full-face shields that are worn over safety glasses and gloves.

House calls are a high risk for your family and should be avoided if possible to protect these essential workers and you.

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“[Having your pipes unclogged] Usually about, anywhere between $250 to $400 bucks. It all just depends how far you gotta take it,” – David Marsh, Owner of Pacific Western Plumbing and Drainage


Metro Vancouver hosts an annual campaign call the Unflushables to bring awareness to this issue. Find out about what you can and can’t flush at