Thursday, March 22, 2012

AJC encourages DeKalb Co. to better manage its sewage system

Today, the AJC has an article outlining how cooking grease is the main culprit in sewage spills, and points to successful approaches by Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, who spend 25%-60% of their budgets (respectively) in preventive maintenance of their sewer systems, in contrast with DeKalb, whose "regular maintenance program fell off about 15 years ago, in an apparent bid to keep water rates low." The lack of system maintenance is directly damaging and unsanitary (when sewage spills into our creeks), but also costly when the EPA fines the County and mandates clean-ups (as it did in 2010).

It's easy to blame the County, but we must also look to our own habits, as cooking fats tie into food preparation at home and dining elsewhere. When fats, oils and grease (FOG) solidify in cold water, the stage is set for clogs that are responsible for 73% of DeKalb's sewage spills, per AJC's report.

DeKalb has a FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) website that  primarily focuses on commercial sewage regulation and includes this gruesome tutorial...

Click to enlarge
But we need more information to encourage all DeKalb County residents to reduce the amount of FOGs we add to the County's water processing infrastructure.  To learn what you can do to help, please take a moment to review this nifty Unclog the Fog brochure produced by Gwinett County's Department of Water Resources. Another brochure by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality explains that by rinsing dishes in cold water, we can solidify some of those fats so that they can be scraped off or caught by sink screens for disposal.