Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Set Wipes Flushability Standards – Utility Advocacy Needed

Feb 3, 2022

Bipartisan legislation, led by Representative Lisa McClain (MI-10-R) and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47-D), was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representative to establish standards for the flushability of disposable nonwoven products – commonly known as wet wipes.

The Protecting Infrastructure and Promoting Environmental Stewardship (PIPES) Act would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish standards for the flushability of wipes and ensure that these products, when marketed as “flushable” or “sewer and septic safe,” do in fact travel through and break down in wastewater systems without causing harm to plumbing, sewers or the environment.

This legislation seeks to build on previously introduced legislation by Reps. McClain and Lowenthal, H.R. 4602, the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety (WIPPES) Act, which would direct the Federal Trade Commission - in consultation with EPA - to issue regulations requiring wipes manufacturers to include Do Not Flush labeling on non-flushable wet wipes packaging.

NACWA has worked closely and collaboratively with the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) on both bills and both associations strongly support the legislation. As part of its support, NACWA noted that non-flushable wipes do not break down as they travel through the sewer system, resulting in clogs and blockages that cost public utilities money, put workers at risk and cause environmental harm.

To help advance this legislation, NACWA strongly encourages members to customize this template letter to send to their respective Representatives and Senators, as well as to advocate around the impact these bills would have on local utilities and their communities. You can find contact information for your Members of Congress at house.gov and senate.gov.

NACWA looks forward to working with Congress to advance this important legislation. Please do not hesitate to reach out to NACWA’s legislative staff if you have any questions or need help preparing or sending the letter. 

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