County Reminds Residents to Avoid Pouring Fats, Oils and Grease Down the Sink

The temporary closures of restaurants and increased number of people staying home due to social distancing guidelines have led to a significant rise in the amount of people cooking — and discarding — food in their homes and apartments. It’s also been a drain — pun, as always, intended — on the county’s wastewater treatment agency.

Clackamas Water Environment Services, or WES, reminded homeowners this week to avoid pouring fats, oils and grease (FOG) down kitchen sinks and garbage disposals after meals or while washing dishes as it can lead to backups, overflows and expensive pipe damage.

As is commonly said around the industry, “FOG creates a clog.”

Over time, FOG builds up by sticking to the inner sides of pipes and forms thick clusters that clog pipes, which can result in sewage overflows in your home or neighbors’ homes (yuck); overflows in yards, streets and parks; overflows that can carry pollutants into streams and rivers; and worst of all, possible sewer rate increases due to repair costs for damages to sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities.

FOG is more common than you might think. It’s found in many common foods and ingredients, including meats, butter, lard, shortening, cooking oil, mayonnaise, gravy, dairy products, salad dressings, sour cream, baking goods, sauces and food scraps.

Instead of dumping delicious lard and mayonnaise down the sink, the county recommends pouring cooled fats, oils and grease into a covered, disposable container and throwing it away. Pro tip: You can always use a heat-safe container, like an empty soup can, stored it in the freezer until solidified, then toss it into the garbage.

Other tips including Soaking up remaining using paper towels to soak up excess grease from cooking, then discarding them in the trash, scraping food scraps into compost or trash before washing dishes and using sink strainers to prevent food from going down the drain.

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