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News & information from the City of San Diego

Public Utilities

Tips to Avoid Sewage Issues During the Holiday Season

aerial view of sewer

A clogged sewer line is the last thing anyone wants to deal with during the holiday season, which is why the City of San Diego is reminding people not to pour fats, oils and grease down the drain.

Many San Diegans will be doing extra cooking at home during the holiday season, and everyone should know that cooking grease can coat sewer pipelines, leading to pipeline blockages, messy spills and the need for expensive repairs.

Public Utilities Department crews have had to respond to three sewer spills this year that were the result of fats, oils and grease that had clogged a pipeline and could have been prevented.

Spilled sewage can eventually reach San Diego’s bays, rivers and beaches, causing unsafe conditions and temporary closures.

“Keeping fats, oils and grease out of your drain and sewer lines is always a smart routine to protect not only your home, but the surrounding environment as well,” said Juan Guerreiro, Director of the City’s Public Utilities Department. “By disposing of these substances properly, you can save yourself from expensive plumbing repairs.”

Following a few simple steps can help prevent costly sewer spills:

  • Never pour fats, oils or grease down the sink drain or garbage disposal. Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system.
  • Pour small amounts of cooled cooking oil (this includes salad dressing, frying oil and bacon fat) into a non-recyclable package or container, such as an old milk carton, and dispose of it in the garbage. Grease, oils and other liquids are not allowed in green bins for organic waste recycling.
  • Wipe dishes and pots coated with greasy leftovers with a disposable towel before washing or placing them in the dishwasher.
  • Put strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps such as meat trimmings and other solids and then empty them in your green bin, not the garbage disposal.

To report a sewer spill, call the Public Utilities emergency hotline at 619-515-3525. For additional information about preventing sewer spills, visit the City’s website.