In recent years, disposable products such as bathroom wipes have grown in consumer popularity. While these products serve useful functions, and their disposability enhances convenience, they are quickly becoming a major problem for public wastewater systems and the entities that operate and maintain them, such as Harris County Water Control and Improvement District No. 110 (the “District”).
These disposable products often find their way into wastewater systems, via flushing, and have been linked to costly clogging issues, as well as sewer backups. While many of these products are not marketed as “flushable,” their intended uses, and obscure or inadequate labeling, lead many consumers to dispose of these products improperly. In fact, even such products designed to be “flushable” have proven problematic, as they do not always dissolve as designed.
This problem is becoming so wide spread that several national agencies, including the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (known as INDA), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Foundation and the American Public Works Association, have begun working together to increase awareness, and reduce the negative impact of disposable products on wastewater systems. INDA recently released a voluntary code of practice for the industry, including a revised test to determine whether such a product can be marketed as “flushable” and certain minimum advertising and labeling requirements. This is an important step, and the District is seeking to join with and support these organizations in their efforts.
If you use these disposable products, even if they are labeled as “flushable,” DO NOT FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET, OR OTHERWISE DEPOSIT THEM INTO THE DISTRICT’S WASTEWATER SYSTEM. It is imperative to the integrity and efficient operation of the wastewater system that you, as residents and customers of the District, properly dispose of these products in your waste receptacles. If this problem persists, the District will have no other alternative but to implement enforcement measures, inclusive of fine and penalties, for unauthorized disposal.