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Anchorage wastewater plant warns people about what they put down their sinks this holiday season

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 4:43 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As turkeys bake in ovens, dripping grease into the pan below this holiday season, Sandy Baker from the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility has one message for everyone.

“Don’t put fats, oils, and grease down the drain,” Baker said.

The varieties of fats, oils and grease include:

· Any type of cooking oil (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, etc.)

· Salad dressings

· Bacon grease

· Meat fat

· Shortening

· Butter

· Sauces

· Dairy products

These fatty products can clog drains. After the fat, oil, and greases build up in the pipes, the department has to go in and clear it out which costs time and money.

“You have to — what’s called — jet it. You have to get in from the downside of it and push water through it to break that loose. It’s hard on the equipment, it’s not cheap to do that especially in off hours,” Baker said.

The largest wastewater treatment plant in Alaska is the John M. Asplund Wastewater Treatment Facility, which treats about 30 million gallons of wastewater a day from places between Talkeetna to Hope, all processed in one place.

“We handle all the wastewater from any septic system, whether it’s in Anchorage or not you know, and so people who are putting stuff in their septic system, you know that’s coming to us also.”

So as the pans start to dirty and the dishes rack up, Baker offers some tips to clean up the holiday mess:

· Put baskets and strainers in sinks to catch food scraps and metal from scrub pads.

· Don’t put greasy food or meat in garbage disposals.

· Before washing dishes, use a spatula to scrape batter and food residue from bowls and plates.

· Never pour oil or grease into a storm drain, which can harm wildlife.

· Consider recycling large quantities of cooking oil from deep fryer.

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