Sewer Commission seeks ban on sale of wet wipes

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 7:45pm
Category: 

Disposable wet wipes have become such a problem that members of the Sewer Commission approved a measure to send a letter to the Town Council recommending that the sale of wet wipes be banned on the island.

Sewer Company Supt. Chris Blane has persistently warned of the dangers the popular cleaning products pose for the town’s infrastructure, particularly the clogging and damaging of pumps.

Sewer Commission Chair Pete McNerney proposed the ban at their most recent meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

“We have a lot of things on Block Island that have been banned: balloons, plastic bags. I hear straws. But I would like to put forth that these things (wet wipes) be banned,” said McNerney. “We can’t control what comes over on cars, but we have serious trouble with these things. It’s going to get worse. There’s no need to have them.”

Blane said there are “alternatives now. Bio-degradable ones are available. There are options. Pumps are burning up with these things. It’s a mess.”

Commission member Brad Marthens was skeptical that banning the sale of wet wipes on the island would do much to deter the problem, but all the same he said, “I have no problem banning the sale of them on the island, but we can’t control what someone buys on the mainland.” What he did propose was that if the source of the improperly disposed wet wipes could be found, then the cleaning crew or whomever may be responsible be fined. 

“I believe if you know where they are coming from, there should be some kind of penalty involved,” said Marthens.

“The more public this thing gets, the less they will be used,” said McNerney. 

“I would keep up the public campaign,” said Water Company Supt. John Breunig. “The more people know the better.”

Real estate agencies have been getting the word out to home renters about not flushing the wet wipes down the toilet, the members noted, which has been helpful.

New water station

Breunig, in his report to the members of the Water Commission, said that he has been working with Margie Comings of the Old Harbor Task Force to bring a water fountain to Nicholas Ball Park, which is located in front of the lawn at Harbor Church. Bruenig said that island guests coming off the boat in the summer should have a place to get a cold drink or to fill up a water bottle.

“It’s just good PR for us to make our water available,” said Breunig.