Wipe Out: NACWA September 16th Webinar to Focus on Solutions to the Wipes Dilemma

(September 10, 2020) – NACWA will be hosting a legal hot topics webinar, Wipe Out: How States and Municipalities are "Flushing" the Wipes Dilemma, on September 16 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EST. The webinar will provide information about recent legislative and legal actions related to wipes, along with an overview of technical issues, public education efforts and media coverage of the wipes issue.

Although NACWA and other water associations have worked on the wipes issue for over a decade, the COVID-19 pandemic, with its initial toilet paper shortages and focus on disinfection, caused significant new problems with “wipes in the pipes” for many clean water utilities. Media stories provided extensive coverage of the issue, increasing awareness and accelerating the search for solutions. Wipes labeling legislation introduced in the state of Washington  was finalized prior to the pandemic in March, becoming the first state wipes law in the nation, and additional states are moving in that direction. 

Frank Dick, from the City of Vancouver, Washington Department of Public Works, will begin the webinar with a discussion of the impacts of flushed wipes, including demonstrations of the performance of “flushable” wipes in sewer systems. Rob Villee, a consultant from Middlesex, NJ, will then provide a summary of the ongoing work to set flushability standards. Erica Spitzig, an attorney at Taft Stettinus & Hollister, LLP, and Amanda Waters, an attorney at AquaLaw PLC, will discuss the legal actions taken against wipes manufacturers and the outlook for a legal solution to wipes problems. 

The potential solutions to the wipes problem include legislation to mandate accurate labeling of wipes and consumer education. Jessica Gauger, from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), and Frank Dick will discuss the legislative efforts in California and Washington state. NACWA staff will also provide information about resources that can help utilities pursue state legislation, as well as public education resources. 

We strongly encourage all NACWA members to register for the webinar. Please contact Cynthia Finley or Amanda Aspatore with any questions.