Preventive Practices

Think before you flush.

Toilet paper is the ONLY manufactured product that should ever go down your commode. Below is a list of commonly flushed items that should ALWAYS go in the trash, along with a video, courtesy of the Water Environment Federation, that shows what happens when you flush non-flushable items.

  • Facial tissue
  • Cotton swabs
  • Dental floss
  • Sanitary products
  • Baby wipes
  • "Flushable" wipes
  • Kitty litter
  • Cigarette butts
  • Hair
  • Cleaning products
  • Syringes/Medications
  • Rags and towels

Understanding FOGs

Fats, oils and greases, collectively referred to as FOGs in the wastewater world, are organic compounds that come from vegetable, plant or animal sources and are composed of long chain triglycerides (fatty compounds). When these compounds enter the sewer system, they stick together and can accumlate on the walls of the sewer pipes. Overtime, this can cause severe blockages and create serious problems for our wastewater collection system. 

Why are FOGs bad? 

Just like fatty foods do to our arteries, FOGs stick to the sides of the sewer pipes and can create serious problems like: 

  • Overflowing sewer lines - Overflows can seep raw sewage into neighborhood streets or local creeks and streams that feed into Old Hickory Lake, our source of drinking water.
  • Rancid odors - The smell of raw sewage  won't harm you, but it is quite unpleasant. 
  • Contamination - Exposure to microorganisms found in raw sewage can cause serious illness, like hepatitis and gastroenteritis. 
  • Costly repairs - FOGs are naturally corrosive  and, even if they don't cause a clog, they can  do serious damage to the wastewater infrastructure. Cleanup, repair and replacement can be very costly.  

How can we prevent FOGs? 

The best way to prevent FOGs in the sewer line is to follow these simple guidelines:

Do NOT dispose of fats, oils or greases down any sink or drain. Instead, think: Scrape, Soak, Store. 

  • Scrape food remnants off the plate and into the trash. Food particles that are rinsed down the drain can stick to any greasy residue and begin to create these nasty FOGs. 
  • Soak up leftover grease with a paper towel and then throw it in the trash. This should also be done for hair and skin oils or any fatty liquids.
  • Store it. You can also pour it in an old paper carton and then throw it in the trash. You should also avoid putting leftover food or food scraps in the garbage disposal.

Leftover yellow grease can be reused or recycled. Some companies will even pay you to take your grease away! It can be used to manufacture soaps, plastics, cosmetics, and even as an additive for animal feeder. 

Commercial entities (churches, schools, restaurants, clubhouses, hospitals, etc.) should also develop and implement FOG Prevention Plans that include complete collection system protection equipment like sink strainers, grease traps, grease interceptors, etc. Click here to download more information about commercial FOG Prevention Plans.

Click here to download a printable version for your home, office, church or other facility.


Warning Signs

There are some tell-tale signs that something may be wrong with your plumbing, including: 

  • Unusual odors coming from your drains.
  • Gurgling or bubbling sounds when your drains are in use.
  • Slow drains inside your home, or inconsistent emptying of drains in one or more fixture.

If you experience one of these issues, or if you see signs of damage or apparent tampering with any part of our collection system, including septic tank access covers, feel free to call our Wastewater Team at 615-672-4110, Monday - Friday, 8am - 4pm.