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

Monday, March 16, 2020


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.



It's now up to President Trump to provide any coronavirus relief. His advisers are recommending he bypass Congress and issue his own executive orders. Both sides tried again today to reach a deal on a stimulus bill but say they remain deeply divided.        The coronavirus crisis is hitting a new milestone with more than 19-million cases around the globe. It surpassed that mark today with another 53-thousand infections just in the U.S. That total is closing in on five-million with California and Florida leading the way.        Hawaii is shutting down beaches and parks on Oahu today due to a surge in coronavirus. Cases are up by 85-percent from last week, hitting a record high of about 132 a day. Quarantine restrictions between islands are also back, joining the one for out-of-state visitors.        All rescue efforts in India are over after a plane skidded off the runway and broke in half. The airline just raised the death toll to 17 and confirmed four crew members are safe. The flight was bringing residents home who had been trapped overseas by coronavirus.        It's going to cost more this year to send holiday packages. UPS is raising fees as it handles an overflow from the pandemic while preparing for the holiday season. The surcharges depend on the weight and will apply to shipments within the U.S. and internationally.        The Pentagon is sticking with SpaceX as one of its main launch providers through 2027. It joins United Launch Alliance in getting five year contracts. The awards come hours after SpaceX launched 57 more internet satellites into orbit.