UNITED STATES—The coronavirus pandemic has caused the world to grind to a halt in so many ways. But, more than that, it has also led a lot of people to panic and worry about year-long lock downs, as well as product shortages. This has led to a lot of members of the public panic buying and stocking up on essentials for the foreseeable future.

Now, ironically, this has actually led to a shortage of some products, most namely toilet paper. A lot of people have found themselves unable to source toilet roll from anywhere, and this has led many people to get creative. We should all admire the innovation and creativity, however, it has led to fresh problems, and this has led California sewer officials expressing concerns about the state’s sewage system.

Indeed, it seems that some people have even been using shredded t-shirts in lieu of toilet paper, which as you might imagine is far from ideal. On Wednesday night the Redding sewer system encountered problems as a result of this, causing a headache for wastewater management.

One of the city’s sewer lines became blocked and backed up at a lift station, and it became necessary for workers to take quick and decisive action in order to prevent worse problems, and the potential of a dangerous spill. This global pandemic has really shown just how important public sector workers are these days, and the critical role they play in society.

Releasing a statement, the city said, “The pumps were clogged by what appears to be shredded t-shirts that were used in place of toilet paper.” Officials then advised people to make sure they don’t flush materials like this down the toilet, and those having to use other material were advised to ‘bag it, not flush it.’

Assistant director of public works Ryan Bailey revealed that the city had received a call from a resident who told them that the toilet wasn’t flushing properly. Whether this was the same resident who used the shredded t-shirt is unclear, but the city was compelled to check it out anyway.

Indeed, the sewage workers had to get creative and run damage control before the situation spiraled out of control. This resulted in them having to unblock many of the sewage pipes and underground systems that run through California, and, specifically, Redding. Clogged drains can cause a lot of problems to any city or state sewer system, and this kind of thing is the last thing anybody wants with the lock down and pandemic we’ve been dealing with.

City workers spent most of the next day dropping fliers round people’s houses reminding them what can and can’t be flushed. It is important that people pay heed to this and they try to follow the rules as much as possible during these turbulent times. Using a toilet paper alternative is perfectly fine, and will definitely be necessary in a lot of cases. However, if you are going to use an alternative, you need to make sure it can be flushed, and if it can’t, make other arrangements.