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Pay attention to what you put down your drain to avoid a sanitary sewer backup while hosting this holiday season.

FOG is the term used to describe the fats, oils and grease that create a hard layer of material that can clog private sanitary service laterals and public sanitary sewer main lines. A private service lateral is the smaller pipe that takes wastewater from your home to the City main pipe underground, which then takes wastewater to a wastewater treatment center. FOG builds up and sticks to pipe walls that can cause backups into homes and basements. Backups are messy, inconvenient and sometimes expensive to clean up. They can also create health and environmental hazards.

During the holidays, more people bake and cook more. Improper disposal of grease and food scraps can increase the likelihood of a backup occurring.

To avoid backups, follow these best practices:

  • Do not pour grease, butter, cooking oil or eggshells down the kitchen drain. Instead, pour grease into a container to harden and throw away in the trash.  
  • Limit the use of garbage disposals. Throw away organic material in the trash or compost.
  • Use dishwasher and sink strainers to capture solid material.

Preventative Maintenance
The City’s “Big Green Vactor” aggressive preventative maintenance program helps prevent backups on the public portion of responsibility on the sanitary sewer and stormwater system. City Engineering crews clean the public sewer pipes year-round to prevent backups. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the private sewer pipe.

If you experience a sewer backup, call Engineering at 608-266-4430. A crew will be dispatched to assess the situation. If the issue is in the public sewer main the crew will take care of the problem. If the issue is in your private sewer lateral the crew will let you know so you can contact a private sewer drain cleaning service.



Health & Safety