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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Voices / Letters from readers

Keep the wipes from the pipes

Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance (SeVWA), the nonprofit organization that does water-quality monitoring from the Williams River in Rockingham to the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, is concerned about water issues from all ends of its source.

This is true during COVID-19. All of us use our toilets, and then we flush, and the water goes down on its journey back to the water cycle.

Unfortunately, thanks to the COVID-19 spread, we are seeing a new item in our water: disinfectant wipes.

If you are like many of us in the more rural areas and have our own septic systems, those wipes might very well clog up your system. Read the following provided by members of the Watersheds United Vermont (WUV), a statewide watershed group:

“As all of us work to #flattenthecurve of the COVID-19 spread, many people have turned to using disposable disinfectant wipes. Whether your home is connected to a community wastewater system (like Brattleboro, Wilmington, Bellows Falls, and others) or to a septic system (well over 50 percent of the state’s population), these wipes are not made to be flushed (nor are baby wipes or toilet paper alternatives). When these items are flushed, they cause clogged sewer pipes. This can result in sewage system back-up, sewage in your home, and damage to community wastewater or home septic systems that can be costly to repair. This is true even for products that claim to be ‘flushable.’”

There is, additionally, some early indication that the novel coronavirus persists in fecal matter and raw sewage — possibly putting those who have to clean up the cloggers at additional risk.

Please spread the word to help keep wipes out of pipes.

Gloria Cristelli

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Originally published in The Commons issue #554 (Wednesday, March 25, 2020). This story appeared on page B2.

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