November 22, 2005 > Holiday dinners that stick to your ribs...and the pipes
Holiday dinners that stick to your ribs...and the pipes
by Michael Auer
If this holiday season you plan to cook up some southern-style deep-fried turkey, sauté onions in butter for that perfect stuffing or whip up some rich and creamy eggnog, you may be surprised to learn that pouring the remains of these culinary delights down the kitchen sink can cause costly sewer blockages and overflows.
On average, one in 60 homes is affected by a blockage in their plumbing or the main lines of the public sewer systems every year. Although tree roots are the number one cause of sewer blockages and overflows, grease poured down the drain from residences and restaurants is also a culprit.
"You never think that the turkey dinner will affect anything other than your waist line," says Mike Auer, environmental outreach coordinator of the Union Sanitary District. "Just as excess fat isn't good for our health; it's not good for our sewer system either. In fact, over time the build-up can block an entire pipe."
Overflows can require expensive cleanup. Some residents pay for such cleanups directly, but even if they don't, when a local city or sewer agency does the cleanup, residents end up paying higher sewer bills due to cleanup costs.
To keep your pipes clear of fat, oil and grease buildup, just follow these simple tips:
Avoid pouring dairy products like fats, oils, grease or greasy foods down the garbage disposal or drain; fix small amounts of used cooking oil, pour on absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds and place it in a lidded container; dispose in a trash receptacle; for greasy pans that need soaking, first pour out the grease into a container (mentioned above). After you are done soaking your pan, place a paper towel over the drain to catch any grease and food partials as you pour the soapy water down the drain.
Residents of Fremont, Newark and Union City can bring large quantities of cooking oil and liquefied grease in a sealed container to BFI's customer service center (located at
42600 Boyce Road, Fremont).for free disposal, Mon. through Fri. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.