Officials remind residents about disposing of ‘FOG’ and items into household drains

The last thing anyone wants to think about concerning Thanksgiving meals is the dish washing that will inevitably follow. However, officials with El Paso Water want residents to think about this very important aspect, especially when it comes to disposing of fats, oils and greases, also known as FOG.

“Please be conscientious about what you send down the drain,” said Pretreatment Manager Nancy Nye. “Use a paper towel to wipe your plates, utensils, pots and pans. And wipe the food scraps into a trash can instead of the disposal.”

For large quantities of FOG, Code Compliance Manager Sonia Wyatt recommends using non-glass leak-proof containers.

“Use a top, then take the containers to one of the Citizens Collection Stations,” she said.

It’s important to remember that fats, oils and greases congeal (or harden) when they cool. Congealing can happen after you send it down the drain, blocking pipes that can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high cleanup costs.

“I would never want sewage backing up into my house or yard,” Wyatt said. “Having to call a plumber on Thanksgiving would sure ruin my holiday.”

Nye says residents should also be aware that there are many commonly-used foods that have high concentrations of fat, oil and grease but are not as obvious.

“Those yummy cream sauces and salad dressings should not be sent down the drain either,” Nye said.

To prevent wastewater pipe blockages, also avoid flushing anything but toilet paper. Remember, there is no such thing as a flushable wipe.

“They may indeed flush, but they don’t disintegrate,” Nye said. “Combine that with all the fat, oil and grease and the FOG now has something to attach to, making an even bigger blockage.”

Another item that often clogs the system are children’s toys because unsupervised little ones enjoy seeing items circle down the drain.

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

As the toys travel through the system, pipe sizes change, and other forms of debris like wipes and FOG cling to them, creating a snowball effect. The blockage just gets larger and larger as it accepts more debris along the way. That is why Nye believes the people of El Paso, the customers who use the wastewater system, can truly be the first line of defense.

“As residents and customers, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in reducing the number of wastewater back-up incidents and inconveniences,” Nye said, “if we each do our part.”

To find out the locations and hours of the Citizen Collection Stations, click here or call 3-1-1.