Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street | Providence, RI 02908 | 401.222.4700 | www.dem.ri.gov | @RhodeIslandDEM


Monday, March 16, 2020

DEM URGES RHODE ISLANDERS TO DISPOSE OF DISINFECTANT WIPES IN THE TRASH TO HELP AVOID SEWER BACKUPS

Flushing cleaning wipes causes clogs and can lead to overflows in wastewater collection systems

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is urging all Rhode Islanders to refrain from flushing disinfectant wipes – including those labeled “flushable” – and instead, to dispose of them in the trash. This morning, the Burrillville Sewer Commission alerted DEM that equipment at the Burrillville Wastewater Treatment Facility and its pump stations have been getting clogged as a result of wipes being flushed down the toilet. Staff from the treatment facility have also been called out after-hours to clear clogged pipes at pump stations to avert sewage overflows. In addition to Burrillville, other local communities have also raised this concern.
Whether your home or business is connected to the public sewer system or has an onsite wastewater treatment system, you should never flush any type of wipes, including baby wipes and those labeled flushable, down the toilet. Instead, you should place these products in the trash for proper disposal.

In addition to causing clogs and wastewater collection system overflows, flushing wipes can also lead to sewer back-ups in basements and damage wastewater treatment equipment. Although some of these products may be labeled as flushable, most wipes do not break down in sewer lines and pumping stations as toilet paper does. As we are seeing in Burrillville, they can clog our sewer systems and cause pump station failures. During a time when we’re washing our hands and wiping down surfaces more frequently, Rhode Island’s wastewater treatment facilities are being affected by the disposal of wipes into sewage systems. We can all do our part and help avoid sewer overflows by disposing of these wipes in the trash rather than flushing them away.

For more information about items that should not be flushed, visit the Water Environment Federation website at https://www.wef.org/resources/for-the-public/public-information/fact-sheets/ and click on "It's a Toilet, Not a Trash Can!" in the left-hand menu.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

 

###

President Trump is once again testing negative for coronavirus. Healthy and symptom-free, the president's results were ready in a matter of minutes with a new testing capability. Collection of the sample took one minute.       President Trump is pushing hard to make more critical supplies. Trump told reporters he's directed his administration to use any authority under the Defense Production Act. It ensures domestic manufacturers have the supplies they need to produce ventilators for patients with severe coronavirus cases.       Mayor Bill de Blasio is now advising New Yorkers to wear some kind of facial covering when going outside, such as a piece of clothing or a bandanna. This is somewhat of a reversal in terms of the city's official guidance, although de Blasio insists people shouldn't be using more professional-masks, which are desperately needed within the healthcare profession.        The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee is being postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. DNC CEO Joe Solmones says the event will now take place during the week of August 17th. In a statement, Solmones said Democratic leaders felt this was the best decision due to uncertainty about how long the outbreak will last.        Wisconsin officials are planning to go ahead with Tuesday's primary election while waiting on a court ruling that could change things. They have been criticized with going ahead with the election during the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say they have already received more than one million ballots in the state's mail-in absentee program.        HBO is stepping up to help with social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The premium network will provide 500 hours of programming for free starting Friday. It's going to be available on the HBO Now and HBO Go services without a subscription for a limited time.