The city of Billings Public Works Department is urging people in the community to refrain from flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet.
Toilet paper supplies have dwindled in local stores since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Billings.
“The toilet paper shortage is causing these problems for us,” says Scott Emerick, superintendent of water and wastewater systems for the city of Billings.
Emerick said that if conventional toilet paper is not available, then the closest alternative would be Kleenex tissues or any soft style paper that is able to dissolve in the sewers.
Emerick advises against flushing personal or baby wipes and any heavy woven style paper, such as paper towels.
“It’ll plug the sewers up and then we have to come out with a jet truck and try to relieve the blockage. Meanwhile the sewer flow is dammed, and it seeks a low spot. So typically, somebody’s basement will get flooded out with sewage,” says Emerick.
“Just the last couple days we have had several of them, where they’ve been a result of non-flushables balling up in the sewer and causing a sewer back-up," he said.