VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - On Tuesday, City of Valdosta crews was on North Ashley Street fixing a manhole that had some blockage. It was due to a buildup of fats, oils, and grease from a nearby restaurant.
That blockage was in the Five Points area and was discharging into a city sewer main.
The city says crews handled the situation quickly. Using a vacuum truck to unblock the manhole, they were able to prevent the discharge from getting into any body of water.
The city says this is the second time in the last six months a manhole blockage was caused by the improper maintenance of this sewer system. The Valdosta Utilities Department issued the property owner a formal notice of violation.
”We have these two different fliers we put out. This would go to our residents to notify them about the FOG program and this will go to our consumers and restaurants, and stuff like that,” said Ashlyn Johnson, Public Information Officer for the City of Valdosta.
City staff are giving homes and businesses door hangers that show how to properly get rid of cooking fats, oils, and grease and how to stop this from happening again.
Crews cleaned and disinfected the area and are on a routine cleaning schedule. Crews will also look at the surrounding sewer mains to ensure there are no more blockages.
“The process, I was talking to our utility department earlier, they explained it. basically the grease hardens and it has less of an area for things to get through the sewer pipe causing a backup. So, ultimately, that would back up into the manhole,” said Johnson.
That back up can cause overflows and breaks in the pipes. It can clog pipes in your house and the city’s utility infrastructure system.
The blockage can cause raw sewage to back up into your home, yard, streets, and waterways.
Grease in your pipes can also lead to increased plumbing costs. Money spent on costly cleanups of sewage spills leads to increased utility bills.
”We always say can it, cool it, trash it, so when you are cleaning dishes, if you have liquid butter, anything that would cause a grease build-up, we ask people to put that in a can, let it cool and then trash it instead of pouring it down the sink,” said Johnson.
Officials have noticed this happening across the city. When it’s a business, they may issue a violation and speak to the owner about pumping their grease trap out.