Kodiak city manager Mike Tvenge has one request.
“If you use a disposable mask, please place it in the trash when it’s no longer effective,” he said. “Rather than disposing down the toilet.”
During a community COVID-19 briefing, Tvenge praised residents for taking precautions against the coronavirus. But he says improperly discarded gloves and masks have wreaked havoc on the city sewer system. Workers have also found disinfecting wipes plugging up pumps in the sewage lift stations.
A city spokesman said most of the clogged sewers are in Kodiak’s Cannery Row area.
The city recently posted a photo on its Facebook page showing a tangled mess of gloves, masks and wipes retrieved from the sewer. The post asks people to flush only toilet paper and human bodily wastes — and that even if the packaging for these products says they are “disposable” or “flushable,” they can still clog up the system.
Since April, Kodiak has had 16 cases of COVID-19. Most are travel-related. Health officials believe the weekly broadcasts from the Kodiak Emergency Operations Center and other community efforts have helped to curb the spread of the virus. So far, there have been no hospitalizations.