Fats, oils and grease are just as bad for sanitary sewer systems as they are for waistlines. The upcoming holiday season often brings an increase in the number of clogged sewer lines because of people pouring used fats, oils and greases down the drain.
Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) officials are asking customers to help keep its sanitary sewer system healthy by properly disposing of fats, oils and grease. Fats, oils and grease (often referred to as F.O.G.) get into the sewer system from household drains, as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.
“We historically see an increase this time of year in the number of clogged sewer lines because of holiday cooking,” says P. Michael Thomas, general manager of CCWA. “We have sewer televising crews who use equipment that is designed to help find grease or roots in our sewer lines before the line is clogged. They work continuously throughout the county, but we need our customers’ help to keep the grease out of our system.”
Grease gets into a sanitary sewer system as the byproduct of cooking things such as meat fats, cooking oil, shortening, food scraps, sauces and dairy products. Too often grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink. Grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes (both on the customer’s side and in the streets). Over time, the grease can build up and block the entire pipe.
Many customers believe garbage disposals eliminate this problem. However, home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain. Commercial additives, including detergents that claim to dissolve grease, may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas. And, chasing grease with hot water doesn’t eliminate the problem either.
The results can be:
• Raw sewage overflowing in your home or your neighbor’s home.
• An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by the homeowner.
• Raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards and streets.
• Potential contact with disease-causing organisms.
• An increase in operation and maintenance costs for the Clayton County Water Authority, which causes higher sewer bills for customers.
What can you do to help?
The easiest way to solve the grease problem and help prevent overflows of raw sewage is to keep this material out of the sewer system in the first place.
- Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets.
- Instead, Cool it. Can it. Trash it. Allow F.O.G. to cool. Then pour into a metal or glass container. When the container is full, just take it out with your kitchen garbage.
- Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils and grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal (or recycling where available).
- Do not put grease down garbage disposals. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the drain baskets/strainers into the trash for disposals.
- Disposing of gallons of fryer oil can seem overwhelming. Cool and strain out any particles. Use a small funnel to pour oil back into the original container for reuse. Oil can be kept for up to six months and reused for up to six hours of fry time.
- The best way to dispose of used cooking oil is to recycle it. Ask one of your favorite restaurants if they will take it from you and recycle it.
- Mix it with unscented kitty litter, sawdust or sand to solidify the oil. Avoid scented or disinfectant types of kitty litter as they can react with the oil and cause a fire.
- Soak up excess oil with newspaper and then place it in the trash.
- Speak with your friends and neighbors about the problem of grease in the sewer system and how to keep it out. Call the Clayton County Water Authority at 770.960.5200 if you have any questions.
Source: Water Environment Federation