Ask your Representative to Co-Sponsor the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (H.R. 4602) Today!

Please reach out and ask your Congressional Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4602, the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (WIPPES Act), by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI). This legislation helps address the extensive and expensive problems caused by non-flushable wet wipes.

Often times, these wipes are marketed as flushable, although they are not. Frequently these products are composed of synthetic, plastic materials that are not compatible with the sewer systems and infrastructure. As a result, when these products travel through the sewer systems they do not break down, but rather accumulate with fats, oils and grease and become large obstructions in the pipes that ultimately clog pumps, collection systems, and motors, causing backups and treatment equipment failures. If the wipes manage to make it through the treatment process, the products are broken down into smaller microfibers and microplastics that are infeasible to stop from being released back into the environment, thereby contributing to the problem of microplastics in the environment.

Ratepayers are already facing increased wastewater utility bills to maintain and modernize the system to meet regulatory obligations, and the damage wipes are doing to systems are only further burdening ratepayers. Analysis of wipes damages data has found that wipes cost utilities across the nation upwards of $1 billion dollars annually. To put that in perspective, Congress provided $1.6 billion in FY21 for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which is a substantial source of funding for wastewater infrastructure investments for utilities.

Not only do the clogs caused by wipes cost ratepayers, they also impact businesses, the environment, public health, and the health of utility workers. When a clog disrupts wastewater service, local restaurants, stores, and office buildings must close until the utility can repair the problems. A wipes clog can also cause significant traffic problems when the clog is under a road or public use area. In some cases, clogs can also cause the overflow of untreated sewage into local waterways or the community. 

The WIPPES Act would address the wipes problem in a straightforward and reasonable approach, by establishing “Do Not Flush” labeling requirements for non-flushable wet wipes product packaging. The bill would take a critical step in stopping the flushing of wet wipes at the source and, as a result, decrease the strains that the flushing of these products have upon property owners, infrastructure, ratepayers, and the surrounding environment.

Ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4602, the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (WIPPES Act) today!