Photo courtesy EPWater

EPWater officials remind residents to ‘Defend their Drains’ this holiday season

The message from El Paso Water Utilities is simple: If you plan to spend extra time in the kitchen, do not forget to show your drains some love too.

Some of the recipes residents plan to whip up may leave behind an excess of fats, oils and greases (FOG), and they should not end up in the drains. FOG does not travel through pipes and drains as effectively as water. In fact, large buildups can cause blockages that can lead to a huge mess.

“Please be conscientious about what you send down the drain,” said El Paso Water Pretreatment Manager Nancy Nye. “Use a paper towel to wipe your plates, utensils, pots and pans. Do not forget to wipe the food scraps into a trash can instead of rinsing them and using the garbage disposal.”

There is a simple trick to safely collect grease rather than sending it down the drain. Click here to watch a video.

Officials added that while the holiday season will also bring gift-wrapped surprises for children of all ages, but the surprises should not turn into headaches because the toys end up in your drains. The amusement of seeing a toy spin down the toilet drain could end up costing you more than your holiday shopping budget.

“We see big toy blockages at our lift stations,” said Martin Ortiz, Wastewater Plant Superintendent. “Our operators have to spend additional time removing the toys and fixing any damage they cause.”

As the toys travel through the system, FOG also clings to the toys, creating a snowball effect that can create major disruptions.

“As residents and customers, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in reducing the number of wastewater back-up incidents,” said Nye. “Our customers are the first line of defense.”

The shortage of toilet paper this year has many customers turning to wipes and paper towels that end up in drains rather than the trash. EPWater crews are spending extra hours unclogging lift stations choked with materials that are not meant to be flushed down the toilet.

Any form of wipe that is said to be ‘flushable’ should be discarded in the trash.

“They may flush, but they do not disintegrate,” Nye said. “Combining that with fats, oils and greases can make for an even bigger blockage.”

Keeping the wastewater system running without interruption is critical during this pandemic. To prevent wastewater pipe blockages, only flush toilet paper and human waste.

Large amounts of FOG can be stored in a leak-proof container and dropped off at one of the city’s Citizens Collection Stations.

To find the nearest location, click here or call 311.