When poured down drains, fats, cooking oil and greases will solidify and build up on the inside of sewer pipes. Even the smallest amount of FOG, over time can constrict flow in pipes that can result in blockages and even sewage spills into our environment. Common sources of residential FOG include meat drippings, juices and fats, cooking oils and condiments like dressings, spreads and sauces.
Here are some ways that you can help prevent FOG build up:
Do not flush unused medications! Traditional Wastewater Treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals, which when flushed, can pass through the treatment plant and end up in the environment. Pharmaceutical drugs can be disposed of at approved take back locations throughout the county or via mail-back envelopes. For more information and a list of locations where medications are accepted please visit www.safemedicinedisposal.org.
There are only three things that should be flushed down the toilet: pee, poop, and toilet paper.
Items such as sanitary wipes, floss and hygiene products do not readily break down in the sanitary system and become entangled in pipes and pumps. Even items labeled as flushable can lead to blockages that back up sewage into homes and streets presenting a significant and costly environmental hazard. See what happens to “Flushable” Wipes after they’ve been flush in the video below:
A recent New York Times article highlighted some other issues with commonly flushed items.
Common household pesticides can show up in treated wastewater and in Bay Area creeks, sometimes at levels that can harm sensitive aquatic life. Sonoma Water has teamed up with Our Water, Our World to help provide information on how to manage pests using less toxic methods. For more information check out the Our Water, Our World website or visit the Fact Sheet Kiosk at Friedman’s Home Improvement store in Sonoma.
When storm water is diverted to the sanitary sewer through connections such as roof drains, downspouts or foundation drains, it is called Inflow. Infiltration is when groundwater enters the sewer system through cracks or leaks in sewer pipes. Inflow and Infiltration creates a problem in the sanitary sewer, particularly in storm events, when excess storm and ground water can overwhelm sewer pipes which can lead to sewer overflows. Additionally, once storm and ground water is exposed to the sewer, it must be treated in the same manner as sewage which leads to increased operating costs. You can help, by making sure your property is free of any connections which divert storm water to the sewer.
Hazardous wastes should never be flushed or dumped down the drain!
Have hazardous household wastes you need to get rid of? For a list of accepted wastes and disposal options please visit The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.
For businesses that discharge process wastewater and operate in any of Sonoma Water’s Sanitation Zones or Districts, an Industrial User permit may be needed. Depending on the nature of your business, other pollution control measure may be required as well. For more information on Sonoma Water’s Pretreatment and Source Control program, including permit applications, wastewater discharge surveys and contact us a IndustrialWaste@scwa.ca.gov
Dental amalgam has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the largest controllable source of mercury entering sanitary sewer systems. All dental facilities within the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District that remove or replace amalgam fillings are required install and maintain an amalgam separator that meets the conditions outlined in Article XI of the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation Code.
The EPA has recently established the Effluent Dental Guidelines which requires that all dental facilities subject to the regulation submit a One Time Compliance Report. For more information on the topic or to receive your copy of Sonoma Water’s One Time Compliance Report please contact the Environmental Services division at IndustrialWaste@scwa.ca.gov.
Pursuant to Sonoma Water’s Sanitation Code Ordinances, Restaurants and other establishments that serve or prepare food are required to install and maintain a grease removal device such as a grease trap or grease interceptor. To ensure that grease removal devices are properly maintained, Sonoma Water staff routinely conduct inspections of grease removal devices. For more information on Sonoma Water’s Food Service Establishment FOG Program contact IndustrialWaste@scwa.ca.gov.
Sonoma Water can receive liquid hauled waste such as septic tank waste and portable toilet waste at the Sonoma Valley Treatment Plant. A permit is required to discharge trucked waste at the facility. For more information contact the Environmental Services division at IndustrialWaste@scwa.ca.gov.
Surface cleaners who perform power washing activities of sidewalks, parking garages, plazas and other outdoor areas can be a significant source of pollution if the wastewater generated by cleaning is not properly handled. After cleaning a surface, wash water may contain cleaning chemicals, oil, grease, metals or other harmful or toxic materials. View the Best Management Practices on surface cleaning provided by the California Storm Water Quality Association.
To report an emergency or sewage spill or backup please call (707) 523-1070
To report illegal dumping or an illicit connection to the sewer please contact IndustrialWaste@scwa.ca.gov.