Fats, oils and grease account for nearly 70 percent of our sewer blockages and overflows, creating a potential public health hazard. Whether it’s an 8-inch residential line or a 3-foot sewer main, grease can accumulate and block them all.

When disposed down the drain, fats, oils and grease congeal and stick to the sewer pipes – much like cholesterol does to heart arteries.

Over time, the pipes will clog, causing unsightly and very costly sanitary sewer overflows.

Grease is more than just oil or melted butter. It also comes from dairy foods such as milk. It’s in the goo that you pour out of the top of your canned goods after opening them. It includes peanut butter, fried foods, salad dressing, cooking lard for baking and even that delicious frosting on your cake. If it contains fats of any kind, those fats will be released as it decomposes and will clog our pipes.

Grease in our sewer system is a citywide issue, which means we can all be part of the solution by practicing good disposal habits.

No matter how advanced any treatment system is, it’s not going to stop grease and other debris from clogging pipes. Residents can help out by being conscientious and disposing fats, oils and grease properly.

Use a disposable container, such as an empty milk carton or a frozen juice container, to collect cooled grease and fats. (Make sure you use some sort of container that won’t melt or deteriorate.) Keep it nearby so it’s handy when ready to dispose of larger amounts of oils and grease. When full, dispose of it in the garbage or take it to the City of San Antonio Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center, 7030 Culebra Road.

For smaller amounts of grease, absorb/wipe with a paper towel and simply toss it into the garbage.

No. The grease will simply re-congeal when it hits the cooler waters in the sewer system and start the process of clogging the pipes.

Also, using a soap/detergent that claims to dissolve grease is not a solution. It simply emulsifies the grease until the temperature cools, allowing it to re-congeal in our pipes.

Grease can cause sewage to back into neighborhood streets and even into your home via drains. And as stated before, it’s also a cost issue.

SAWS crews do routine maintenance using power washers and cameras to inspect sewer pipes, making sure they are working properly. But emergencies require extra manpower and other resources, especially if a pipe repair or replacement is needed. Construction isn’t cheap and SAWS is already doing a lot of work to maintain and replace aging sewer infrastructure. Preventing overflows keeps costs to our customers to a minimum.

We are currently working with restaurants and the San Antonio Restaurant Association. Restaurants and other commercial food preparation companies are required by city ordinance to use grease traps and to properly dispose of oil and grease products in an approved container. If they don’t, they can be fined and have legal action brought against them. The ordinance, effective Jan. 1, 2012, also increases inspections from once every three years to once per year and includes a two-tiered fee for food establishments. SAWS is working with businesses in the food and restaurant industry to keep owners and employees up-to-date on proper grease disposal.

Educate your children, family and friends about the importance of proper grease disposal. Let’s prevent the Grease Monster from wreaking havoc in your home and neighborhood!