On August 26th the Town experienced a severe sewer line blockage that caused sewage to enter and damage a single family home and two Amherst College dormitories. The blockage was caused by the improper disposal of both residential and commercial cooking grease into our sewer system in the downtown area. Fats, oils, and grease should not be disposed of in sinks, drains, or toilets that connect to the Town’s sewer system, and grease traps must be regularly maintained and cleaned.
Fats, oils, and grease solidify when they cool in the sewer pipes and coat the inside of the pipes. Over time the build-up can block the entire pipe resulting in sewer back-ups and overflows. On August 26th, several twelve-inch long plugs of solidified grease were found within the sewer line. These sewer line blockages have detrimental effects on our Town, residents rely on strong sewer infrastructure for overall health. These events cost the town money in infrastructure repairs and spill clean-up, that can result in higher sewer fees for residents. In addition, sewage may flow into nearby streams and rivers, yielding to other potential public health concerns.
If you own a restaurant in Amherst and have a grease trap you are required to maintain it under your Food Establishment License. If you are a homeowner, it is improper to dispose of fats, oils, and grease in your sink, drain, or toilet. Below are some tips on how to correctly dispose of fats, oils, and grease.
- Do not pour fats, oils, or grease down sinks, drains, or toilets. Grease products include meat fats, lard, cooking oil, shortening, butter, margarine, food scraps, baking goods, sauces, and dairy products.
- Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal.
- Do not put grease products down garbage disposals. These units are for shredding solids and do not prevent grease from going down the drain.
- Place baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids and empty the baskets/strainers into the trash for disposal.
- If you have a grease trap on your property, proper maintenance of the trap can help in preventing grease from going into the system.