Greasy sewer problems - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Greasy sewer problems

Camera view of the sewer pipe, showing grease on the sides Camera view of the sewer pipe, showing grease on the sides
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November 14, 2003

Albany-- Most southerners love fried food so it should come as no surprise that city workers every day across Georgia are unclogging our sewer systems of grease.

"Grease is one of the two biggest problems in the city sewer system. We have a problem with roots as well but grease is probably one of the more significant problems because it impacts the entire system," claims Public Works Sewage Director Ann Zimmershepard.

You may not think of this as your problem but your tax money is paying to clear these blockages which cost millions every year. "A large portion of our budget is the maintenance of our system, and grease is a major maintenance issue," says Zimmershepard.

Television Technician, Kerry Campbell sends an underground video camera down manholes throughout the city. This is how the grease problem is monitored. We found that the grease in sewer pipes is highly visible. "Now you can see all down here where all the grease is at," explained Campbell.

Although there was grease lining the bottom and sides of the sewer pipe we viewed it was reasonably clean in comparison to some others so the maintenance crew moved on to another pipe with many nearby homes and restaurants. What they found was a greasy mess so a jet vacuum truck that can hold up to eight tons of grease was used to clean it out.

Grease becomes a problem on many different levels. If grease reaches the digesters in station pumps, it could cause spillage and overflow resulting in serious environmental concerns. It can reduce the capacity to carry storm water which can cause flooding, and of course it can cause sewage back-up in your own home.

Zimmershepard says "It would help if instead of putting it down the sink if they would take it and let it solidify and put it into a can and then throw it in a trash can."

If people avoid pouring grease down the drain at home, more than half the problem would be eliminated, leaving more time and money to deal with other issues.

Posted at 6:03 PM by jennifer.hulsey@walb.com