Officials in Redding, California are telling residents to only use toilet paper after shredded T-shirts were found clogging the sewer system.
"Last night, City of Redding Wastewater Management responded to a sewer backup at one of its lift stations. The pumps were clogged by what appeared to be shredded T-shirts that were used in place of toilet paper," the city said in a news release Thursday.
Toilet paper has been a popular panic buy during the coronavirus outbreak. Some stores have even placed limits on the number of packs people can buy.
The northern California city was able to avert a spill but warned that the situation could have presented another public health crisis since clogs can cause fecal matter to back up showers, toilets and sinks.
"With more people sequestered in their homes and a verifiable shortage of toilet paper, people are resorting to the use of other materials when using the restroom. It is crucial - at all times, but especially during the evolving circumstances surrounding COVID-19 - for the public to refrain from putting anything aside from toilet paper down the toilet," the warning said. "If you should need to use anything aside from toilet paper, remember this important message: 'Bag it. Don't flush it.'"
The decision to hoard toilet paper has also led to a discussion about how much people really need. Toilet paper manufacturers said they are doing their best to meet demand.