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​What you pour down your sink can "drain" your bank account. Fats, oils, and grease can cause sewer backups by blocking the main sewer lines as well as those on private property, causing expensive property damage. Edmontonians should try to "store it, don't pour it".

Residents are asked to store fats and grease in disposable containers with lids. The containers can then be placed in the garbage. Used cooking oil should be cooled and put into a covered plastic bottle, labeled and also put out for garbage collection. Residents who are disposing of more than one litre of used cooking oil must take it to an Eco Station.

Our FAQ section below answers questions about how fats, oils, and grease in the sewer system can cause problems. It also tells you what to do to prevent them.

​Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are by-products of cooking – there’s no way around it. How you manage these by-products can have a tremendous impact on home, business and the environment.

Typically, FOG includes things such as:

  • Food scraps
  • Meat fats
  • Lard
  • Cooking oil
  • Butter and margarine
  • Sauces and more
Why is there a problem with Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) in the sewer system?

Improper disposal of fats, oils, and grease by residents can build up in the sewer system and cause blockages. This can result in sewer backup, property damages, and cost to residents.

How do you know the trouble is caused by FOG?

​Grease can be seen on the cleaning equipment during routine cleaning of the sewer lines. Grease buildup can be confirmed by running a small camera through the line to determine what is causing the blockage.

How is this problem fixed?

​Lines are cleared by special equipment that uses water under high pressure to remove the grease from the walls of the pipe and a vacuum process to remove the dislodged grease from the manhole.

How much does this cost Edmonton annually?

In 2015, approximately 1,200 kilometres of sewers were cleaned at a cost of $2 million. In addition, 123 kilometres of mainline was televised at a cost of $1.6 million. It is estimated that grease is present in 25% to 50% of these lines.

Can’t we just televise all the sewers and ensure they are maintained before problems occur?

There are approximately 3000 km of pipe in the sanitary and combined (sewers used for both sanitary and stormwater) sewer systems. On a yearly basis about 150 kilometres can be televised. Based on these numbers, it would take 20 years to televise the entire city. Therefore, it is not possible to monitor all the sewer lines for grease buildup on a regular basis.

How many kilometres of drainages pipe are there in Edmonton?

​Edmonton has a little over 5,000 km of sewer pipe in total consisting of:

  • 2,000 km of sanitary pipe that handles the wastewater from residences.

  • 2,100 km of storm pipe that handles the runoff from rain and snow melt.

  • 937 km of combined sewer pipe that handles both wastewater and stormwater.

Why can’t the FOG be washed away with hot water and soap?

Hot water and soap may remove grease from the dishes but not from the walls of sewer pipes. Sewer pipes in the ground are fairly cold so any liquid grease in the wastewater solidifies on the walls of the pipe. Eventually, it can build up enough to cause blockages.

Can I just dump it into the toilet instead?

No. Wastewater from every toilet, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher, or bathtub is connected to a single sewer pipe from your residence. Therefore all grease laden wastewater ends up in the same sewer pipe.

Does cooking oil get treated differently?

Cooking oil does not solidify so when garbage collectors pick it up, there is a chance the container can break and oil will be spilled causing a safety hazard.

Used cooking oil should be placed in a capped, plastic jug, labeled, and set out for garbage collection. Amounts larger than 1 litre should be taken to an Eco station for disposal.

If I live in an apartment or condo, do I still need to worry about this?

Yes. Everyone should dispose of cooking fats, oils, and grease in the proper way rather than pouring them down the drain.