In advance of the holiday season, the county’s Department of Environmental Services sent out an email reminder to community listservs warning that dumping fats, oils and grease (FOG) down the sink could cause harm to the county’s sanitation system when the substances solidify.
Cooking oil, fat, butter, margarine, shortening and food scraps could all potentially damage sewer lines and the environment, according to DES.
“When FOG is dumped down the drain, it forms large, thick grease balls that clog our sewer pipes,” Watershed Outreach Program Manager Aileen Winquist wrote in the email. “Clogged pipes can result in sewage backups and spills, flooding homes and businesses, causing environmental problems and traffic tie-ups.”
A sewage line clog was blamed for the sewage backup that flooded the Harris Teeter near Potomac Yard, though the exact cause of the clog has not been revealed.
To help avoid backups, Winquist advised residents to pour grease into metal trash cans, wipe down dishes with paper towels and to clean drains “by pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup vinegar. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with hot water.”