Avoid Sewer Backups Caused by Fatty, Oily, or Greasy Holiday Food

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Rich ingredients in tasty seasonal recipes can lead to frustrating sewer blockages. 

INDIANAPOLIS Citizens Energy Group reminds Central Indiana residents to be mindful of how the incorrect disposal of foods prepared for the holiday season can clog or fully block home plumbing systems and the public sewer system. Varieties of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are readily found in Thanksgiving staples such as turkey, stuffing, and gravy, as well as in the preparation of desserts, casseroles, pastries, and other dishes commonly associated with the end-of-year holidays. When residents improperly dispose of FOG, these materials can collect and cause sewer backups. 

In recent years, Citizens has annually responded to nearly 100 incidents of sewer backups directly caused by FOG. Depending on where they are located, blockages require costly and lengthy repairs for homeowners or for wastewater sewer crews. 

“Customers may not anticipate the potential health hazards or frustrating maintenance issues of blocked sewage infrastructure,” said Roger Hanas, Director of Wastewater Collections for Citizens. “And often the blockage could have been avoided by simply not releasing these materials down the drain.” 

During or after food preparation, FOG may improperly enter the sewer system—often in a liquid state—via drains or garbage disposals. FOG can then solidify and attach to the resident's pipes in the home or in the public sewer system’s pipes and joints, resulting in a blockage. 

Customers can avoid disruptive sewer blockages caused by FOG using these methods: 

  • Pour fat, oils, or grease into a small container. Once it solidifies, place the container in the garbage.
  • Wipe grease off pots, pans, and dishes before washing them.
  • For restaurants or other food preparation establishments, consider FOG as a valuable recyclable. FOG can be sold to rendering companies for use in soaps, fertilizers, and animal feed. 

Citizens’ sewer maintenance teams must respond to FOG blockages in an aggressive manner, including the speedy removal of the blockage and an investigation into the source of origin. The response may result in fines and penalties as well as costs associated with FOG removal and sewer cleaning. 

Non-cooking oils, oil-based paints, solvents, and other chemicals also should never be disposed of via sewer lines or storm drains (some of which drain directly to waterways). These materials (known as Household Hazardous Waste [HHW]) should be properly discarded at various ToxDrop sites in Marion County or via the HHW Center in Hamilton County. 

About Citizens Energy Group
Citizens Energy Group provides safe and reliable utility services to about 900,000 people in the Indianapolis area. Citizens operates its utilities for the benefit of customers and the community.

Media Contact Information
Ben Easley
Phone: 317-519-1515
Email: media@citizensenergygroup.com