NBU sewage

Materials taken from a clogged New Braunfels sewer are visible after removal from the sewer. NBU is urging customers not to flush paper towels, wipes of any kind, napkins or rags down the toilet. Photo courtesy of NBU.

Stop. Think about what is being flushed down the toilet, the commode, the latrine, the loo. 

With toilet paper disappearing from store shelves, people are turning to alternatives.

And those alternatives — paper towels, wipes of any kind, napkins or rags — flushed down the toilet will lead to clogged pipes, sewer back-ups and possible costly repairs, according to New Braunfels Utilities.

“Non-toilet paper items can cause residential backups, problems at the wastewater treatment plants and possible sanitary sewer overflows,” said Melissa Krause, NBU’s executive director of communications and external affairs. “Please remember, the toilet is not a trash can.”

Wastewater experts also recommend not flushing down the toilet medicines, such as prescription pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications.

NBU recommending water, energy conservation methods

With more people working and schooling kids at home to limit the spread of COVID-19, NBU is also recommending measures to keep utility bills as low as possible.  

Water:

Cooking breakfasts and lunches at home instead of going out can lead to increased water usage. Plan meals and defrost frozen food in the refrigerator overnight instead of running water over it. 

Cleaning and sanitizing your home can often require the use of water. Sweep the floor regularly instead of mopping it. Spot clean the counters, stoves and floors to reduce water usage.

The increased use of dish and clothes washers at home can impact your bill. Remember to always fill these machines to capacity before operating them. 

As we enter spring, be aware that turning lawn sprinklers back on can increase your water bill by double or even triple. Make sure that your system is in good repair and in compliance before activating it. (irrigation poster image)

Remember that your toilets will be flushed more. Check out NBU’s helpful video to make sure your toilet is leak-free, at nbutexas.com.

Energy:

Being at home when you expected to be at work can lead to increased energy costs due to the air conditioner or heater running at times when it is normally not in use. Remember to keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees when cooling and 68 degrees when heating your home for optimal comfort and energy usage.

Working from home can create situations where lights, fans, and other electronic appliances are used. Try opening windows to let natural light in to save on energy usage.

If you are cooking meals from home, keep in mind that a microwave uses one-third the energy that a stovetop or oven do.

Being bored at home can often lead to snacking. Constantly opening your refrigerator door will cause it to work overtime to keep your groceries fresh and increase your overall energy usage. 

Kids that go outside to play sometimes leave the door open. An open door while the air conditioner is running can waste energy.

NBU has suspended disconnects for non-payment and late fees on customer accounts. 

They ask that customers experiencing hardship to call the utility’s customer service department to set up a payment arrangement. Customer Service can be reached by calling 830-629-8400 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

NBU also maintains a utility bill payment assistance program, in partnership with the New Braunfels Food Bank. To learn about the program, visit nbutexas.com. NBU is also accepting donations to help with that utility bill fund.

NBU lobbies remain closed until further notice, and customers are asked to access their accounts online, or by phone during standard business hours. The drive-thru window, located off of the Main Plaza, is also open during standard business hours and the night drop remains accessible.

 Other utilities are following suit.

The Canyon Lake Water Service Company is not turning water off due to non-payment.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority will credit customer accounts after the transaction for credit card processing fees on payments made online or by phone. The Authority is also temporarily halting late payment fees and disconnections due to non-payment. 

AT&T said they will not terminate service and will waive late payment fees of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer due to an inability to pay their bill for the next 60 days.

The Dallas-based company also said it would waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice, or text for residential or small business wireless customers.

Spectrum has opened wifi hotspots for public use and offered new free access to internet and wifi for 60 days for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don’t currently have internet or WiFi service.

In a related item, the Texas Legal Services Center, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, People’s Community Clinic, Texas Health Action, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Disability Rights Texas last week submitted a joint petition to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requesting that there be no utility shutoffs for nonpayment during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The petition would relieve Texas residents of having to make impossible choices between power, water, or food, according to a press release.

“Shutting off utilities is a public health concern,” says Karen Miller, executive director at Texas Legal Services Center in a statement. “It would mean that people can’t wash their hands, bathe or cook with clean water.”

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