Proper disposal of fat, oil and grease (FOG) helps prevent wastewater overflows

Highlights

  • Inside a sewer or plumbing drain, fat, oil and grease harden to a plaster-like consistency.
  • Fat, oil and grease accumulations can cause wastewater overflows by blocking the flow inside a sewer.
  • Fat, oil and grease may also cause back-ups in plumbing drains at residences, businesses, etc.
  • When a sewer is blocked, wastewater can spill out of a manhole into the natural environment (such as a creek or wooded area), on a street, on residential or business property, etc.
  • Used cooking oil should be recycled at Orange County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program at 1514 Eubanks Road on Mondays through Fridays from 10 AM to 6 PM, and on Saturdays from 7:30 AM to noon.
  • Residents can dispose of small amounts of fat and solidified grease (up to one quart at a time) in a sealed container for disposal with other refuse. (Liquids should not be disposed of with refuse.)
  • Businesses and other non-residential customers which produce waste fat, oil and grease must have a grease trap. Grease traps should be cleaned out regularly by a company that recycles fat, oil and grease.

How FOG can cause wastewater overflows

  • Waste fat, oil and grease (FOG) may go down the drain and get into sewers from preparing food and washing or other cleaning of utensils, pots, pans, plates, bowls, etc.
  • Inside a plumbing system or a public sewer, FOG harden to a plaster-like consistency.
  • FOG may accumulate at various locations including those where tree roots have grown into a sewer main.

 

 

ABOVE: Fat, oil and grease are beginning to accumulate in a sewer and restrict the flow of wastewater. This picture was taken with a special videocamera we use to inspect our sanitary sewer system.

  • When FOG accumulates in a sewer, the FOG blocks the flow of wastewater. A combination of roots and grease is especially likely to block wastewater flow in a sewer.
  • When there is a blockage, wastewater will spill out of a manhole into the natural environment, a street or public or private property; or wastewater may back up in a house or other building and overflow from a toilet.
  • We clean many of our 300+ miles of sewers each year, but it is not possible to remove all FOG accumulations before they can cause overflows.

Keeping FOG out of drains and sewers

  • Prevent fat, oil and grease from going down the drain during food preparation and while washing dishes.
  • Scrape or wipe fat, oil and grease off pots, pans, plates, bowls, etc. before washing these items.
  • Residents can put small amounts (1 quart or less) of fat and solidified grease in a sealed container for disposal with other refuse.
  • Used cooking oil should be recycled at Orange County’s Household Hazardous Waste program at 1514 Eubanks Road (on the north side of Chapel Hill). Please call 919-968-2788, send an e-mail to recycling@orangecountync.gov or visit http://www.co.orange.nc.us/recycling/hhw.asp for more information.
  • Businesses must have a grease trap which keeps FOG from going into the sewer system and which is regularly cleaned out by a company that recycles FOGs.

For more information

Please contact OWASA Public Affairs at 919-537-4267 or info@owasa.org.