The Ugly Side of Grease in Your Sewer System: Sanitary Sewer Overflows

grease clogged pipeSanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) can be caused by anything capable of obstructing the flow of wastewater in a sewer. The buildup of solids, fats, oils and grease in the wastewater collection system is a major culprit.

SAWS is working to increase preventative maintenance of sewer lines and reduce such overflows to comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

When an obstruction blocks the flow of wastewater within a pipe, the wastewater may back up and overflow through a manhole, cleanout, toilet, sink or drain.

This overflowing wastewater may make its way into the environment and into your house or business. Not a pretty sight, right? And it’s a hazard.

Here are some of the risks:

  • SSOs contain everything that goes down your drain – and we truly mean EVERYTHING!
  • Additionally, SSOs can carry harmful bacteriaviruses and various diseases.
  • Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems face added risks.
  • In water bodies, the environmental impacts of sewage include: hypoxia, algal blooms, habitat degradation, floating debris and aquatic species die-offs.

What Not to Pour Down the Drain

Traditionally, grease is thought of as oil used for frying and bacon grease, but grease and oils can be found in other food items that may surprise you, such as:

  • Baked goods
  • Butter
  • Chicken skins
  • Creams and sauces
  • Frosting
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Salad dressing