Disposable masks clog Kodiak’s sewers

Masks and gloves found in Kodiak area sewers (Photo from Kodiak EOC Facebook)

Since the start of the pandemic, Kodiak officials have hosted a regular community briefing to update residents on the status of COVID-19 responses with information on case counts and health precautions.

This week, city manager Mike Tvenge als had a complaint.

“If you use a disposable mask,” he said in the broadcast, “please place it in the trash when it’s no longer effective, rather than disposing down the toilet.”

While it’s a good sign that people are taking precautions against the coronavirus, it’s wreaked havoc on the city sewer system, where workers have also found gloves and disinfection 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 that shows a tangled mess of wipes and masks 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 say they  are “disposable” or “flushable,” they can still clog up the system.

RELATED: Alaska has another record-high COVID-19 count with dozens of cases among seafood workers

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. Here’s a link to the Kodiak Coronavirus Dashboard with more information about the types of cases Kodiak has seen.

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