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Prevent Clogging of Sewers

March 24, 2020 -- Prevent Clogging of Sewers – Do Not Flush Wipes or Paper Towels!

EPA Water GraphicWipes clog pipes! As residents make an effort to shop less frequently and stock up on paper goods in response to COVID-19 social distancing guidance, you may have the urge to look for alternatives to toilet paper, such as wipes or paper towels. Please do not flush these items down the toilet, as they will damage our sanitary sewer system.

Residential sanitary sewer laterals connect residential sewage lines into the City of Highland Park sanitary sewer system which ultimately discharges into the North Shore Water Reclamation District (NSWRD) sewer system. Residential sanitary sewer laterals are not designed to handle paper products other than toilet paper. NSWRD’s wastewater treatment facility will incur damage to pumps and filters due to flushing of products not meant to be discharged into sanitary sewers.

Products such as disinfecting wipes, napkins, baby wipes, paper towels, diapers, personal hygiene products, and other similar non-dissolving paper products clog sewer pipes. These products stick to other products within the residential sanitary sewer lateral pipe, such as debris or grease, causing a blockage that will result in sewer backups in toilets or basements.

The City maintains more than 130 miles of sanitary sewer. There are more than 9,000 private sanitary sewer lateral connections. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sanitary sewer lateral from the house to the City sanitary sewer connection. If you have a blocked sewer or toilets are not flushing, please first contact a licensed plumber to diagnose the issue.

For more information on the City’s sanitary sewer system, please visit the Public Works Department Sewer webpage on the City website at or contact the Public Works Department at 847.432.0807 during normal business hours.

Thank you for taking steps to protect our sewer system and the environment!

Learn more about the steps the City is taking to protect public health during the COVID-19 outbreak here