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Charleston Water Secures First Ever Settlement Agreement with Major Wipes Company in Class Action Litigation

Apr 29, 2021

In January 2021, NACWA member utility Charleston Water System (CWS) in South Carolina filed a lawsuit in federal district court against multiple manufacturers, distributors and retailers of so-called “flushable” wipes seeking to have the court enjoin them from labeling their products as “flushable” in light of the damage those wipes have caused to sewer systems. 

Although many of the named Defendants, including Costco, CVS, and Target, have contested CWS’s claims, CWS has entered into a proposed first-of-its-kind settlement agreement with one Defendant, major U.S. wipes manufacturer Kimberly-Clark, concerning the performance and labeling of certain wipes products. 

NACWA commends the efforts of CWS to secure this step forward in ensuring “flushable” products actually perform as advertised and do not cause blockages in sewer systems. NACWA issued a press release congratulating CWS on the settlement and noting it is an important step forward in addressing the flushable wipes issue.          

However, because the litigation is styled as a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of all public wastewater utilities nationwide, both it and the proposed settlement agreement with Kimberly-Clark will directly impact NACWA’s public utility members. NACWA therefore encourages members to read this informational document, which is intended to provide NACWA’s public utility members with additional information concerning what the proposed settlement does, what rights of utilities may be impacted, and what utilities may expect from the lawsuit going forward. 

In a related development, the Washington Post also ran a featured story this past weekend on the problems created for clean water utilities from “flushable” products. NACWA member utilities and NACWA staff were highlighted and quoted in the article.

NACWA members with questions can contact Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s General Counsel & Chief Advocacy Officer, or Amanda Aspatore, NACWA’s Chief Legal Officer.

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