Senate Introduces Companion to House Bill Requiring Non-Flushable Wipes Labeling; Members Encouraged to Send Template Letter to Your Reps & Senators!

Apr 6, 2022

On March 30, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to help address the problem of non-flushable wipes in sewer systems. S. 3946, the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (WIPPES), would set federal standards for “Do Not Flush” labeling of non-flushable wipes.

This Senate bill closely follows H.R. 4602, introduced last year by Representatives Alan Lowenthal (CA-47-D) and Lisa McClain (MI-10-R).  The Senate bill includes a state preemption clause, which if enacted would preempt the wipes labeling laws in Washington, Oregon, California, and Illinois. However, the labeling requirements are nearly identical in the federal and state bills. This provision is supported by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) which has a strict state labeling law. The Senate bill would also create an EPA Consumer Education & Outreach Grant Program for public education on proper disposal of wipes, with eligible grant recipients including state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and public-private partnerships. The Senate bill has the support of NACWA, WEF, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), and several state and regional water associations.

A related bipartisan bill NACWA strongly supports, also introduced by Reps. Lowenthal and McClain earlier this Congress, would establish standards for the flushability of wipes.  The Protecting Infrastructure and Promoting Environmental Stewardship (PIPES) Act would require 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.

To help advance these bills, NACWA strongly encourages members to customize this template letter  to send to their respective Representatives and Senators, as well as to advocate with  their policy-makers how these bills would benefit their utility and community/ratepayers.  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 a member of NACWA’s legislative staff if you have any questions or need help preparing or sending the letter.  

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