HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?
Grease accounts for two-thirds of our sewer blockages and overflows. Whether it's an 8-inch residential line or a 3-foot sewer main, grease can build up and block them all.
HOW DOES THIS PROBLEM AFFECT ME?
As a community, the responsibility to be conscientious of what we put down the drain falls on all of us. We are all responsible for maintaining our water and wastewater lines whether physically or financially.
You might think it's just a little cooking grease or oil. Just run hot water to dump it down the drain, right? The problem is that even though you use hot water, it may go down your drain, but when it joins wastewater from your neighbors, the grease floats on top of the water and sticks to the pipes as it makes its way downstream.
It can also get caught on other globs of grease and food. These blockages may go unnoticed for months because they're not fully closed off... maybe they're just partially blocked. But when we hit a time when we need peak flow in the sewer system, the pipes can't handle the volume. Then all that water gets stopped up and starts to backflow wherever it can. It may even back up into your house.
WHERE IS THE PROBLEM?
Grease is a problem all over the city but our biggest problem areas are Downtown, the East Side, Northwest Side and the West Side.
WHY CAN'T WE JUST BUILD A SYSTEM THAT CAN HANDLE ALL SORTS OF WASTE?
No matter how good or advanced the treatment system is, it's not going to stop grease and other debris from getting stuck.
WHY SHOULD I CARE IF IT'S NOT IN MY PIPES?
Because even if isn't your house it may be your neighbor's house. Just because you personally haven't experienced an overflow doesn't mean it can't affect you.
Grease can also cause sewage to back into neighborhood streets, even into your home — remember anywhere water can get out it will.
It's also an issue of cost.
Ahoskie has crews that head out every day with pressure washers and cameras to do routine maintenance and make sure the sewer pipes are able to work properly. But emergencies require extra manpower and other resources, especially if pipe repair or replacement is needed. Construction isn't cheap and Ahoskie is already doing a lot of work to maintain and replace our aging sewer infrastructure.
WHAT ABOUT RESTAURANTS? WHY AREN'T YOU TARGETING THEM?
We are working with restaurants and businesses who prepare food as a part of their daily routine.
Restaurants and other commercial food preparation companies are required by law to use grease traps and 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. Ahoskie is working with businesses in the food and restaurant industry to keep owners and employees up-to-date on proper grease disposal.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GREASE? IS IT JUST COOKING OIL?
Grease is more than just oil or melted butter. It also comes from dairy foods like whole milk. It's in the goo that you pour out of the top of your canned goods after opening them. It's peanut butter, fried foods or leftovers that get chopped up in your garbage disposal, salad dressing, cooking lard for baking, even frosting on cake. If it contains fats of any kind, those fats will be released as it decomposes and clog up our pipes.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Use a disposable container to get rid of cooled grease and fats. Make sure you use some sort of container that won't melt or deteriorate. Keep it by or under your sink so it's handy when you're cleaning up.
One of the best things you can do is educate your children, friends, family and co-workers about the importance of grease disposal.
For additional information, please contact the Public Works Department at 252-332-5146.