Be Sewer SmartReliable Service Tips

Reliable service starts at home. What you do in the home matters: to our system, the environment and even to your rates. Every time you use a faucet or flush a toilet you are creating wastewater; an average family will send approximately 200 gallons down the drain every day. Practice these easy tips to keep your service running smoothly and affordably.

Be Aware of FOGGBe Aware of FOGG

FOGGs are household fats, oils, grease, and grit – and are the most common cause of sewer blockages.

Follow these easy tips to keep FOGG from entering your drain:

  • Do Freeze the Grease.
  • Do know what items are considered FOGG.
  • Do can, scrape, or trash food scraps.
  • Don’t turn on hot water when trying to rinse a food item down the drain.
  • Don’t use dish detergent to help grease down the drain, you are wasting dish soap.

Knowing what FOGGs are will help keep you from introducing these into the sewer system:
Fats: salad dressing, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, creamer, butter, gravy
Oils: cooking oils, lard, shortening
Grease: meat juices, frying grease, pan drippings
Grit: egg shells, sand, plant material, food scraps

Be Aware of FOGG

Visit these helpful websites to learn more about why what you flush down the toilet or pour down the drain matters.

Use Your Garbage Disposal ProperlyUse Your Garbage Disposal Properly

Garbage disposals can cause significant issues for sewer pipes if not used properly.

Follow these easy tips to properly use your garbage disposal:

  • Do use only cold water when using the garbage disposal.
  • Do run cold water at least 30 seconds after food has cleared.
  • Don’t use your garbage disposal to wash fatty/greasy foods away.
  • Don’t use hot water while using garbage disposal.

NEVER put these in your disposal:

  • hard shells from shellfish
  • un-popped popcorn kernels
  • hard bones
  • banana peel
  • celery
  • corn cobs
  • artichokes
  • coffee grounds
  • fruit pits
  • avocado
  • seeds
  • egg shells
  • onion skins
  • pasta
  • rice
  • rags
  • trash (candy wrapper, paper scraps)

Use Your Garbage Disposal ProperlyVisit these helpful websites to learn more about why what you pour down the drain matters.

Smart BunniesKnow What You Flush

Only flush human waste and toilet paper – nothing else!

Follow these four tips in the kitchen to prevent plumbing backups:

  • Do use baskets or strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids and empty them into the trash or compost them.
  • Do scrape grease and food scraps from cooking surfaces into a container and put it in the trash can, or compost them.
  • Don’t put produce stickers down the drain.
  • Don’t put grease, fats, or oil of any type down your drain or garbage disposal.

Not a Trash CanIn the bathroom you will see how easy it is to prevent plumbing backups:

  • Do Have a trashcan in the bathroom, so nobody’s tempted to flush.
  • Do Remember only to flush the three P’s – pee, poo & toilet paper.
  • Do place Wipes, Kleenex tissues, feminine products and diapers in the trashcan.

Visit these helpful websites to learn more about why what you flush down the toilet or pour down the drain matters.

Know Your LateralKnow Your Lateral

You should know the location of the sewer lateral on your property.
Following these simple tips can help you protect the portion of sewer line on your property:

  • Do request a copy of your side sewer (lateral) permit.
  • Do review this permit before doing any work or planting on your property.
  • Do know the location of your lateral clean out
  • Don’t cover the your lateral clean out with shrubs or garden furniture
  • Don’t wait until there is a problem to find out where your lateral is because your plumbing issues could be prolonged.

Side Sewer ApplicationThe sewer lateral connects your home plumbing with the District’s main sewer line. A number of things can compromise a lateral. Foreign substances or objects such as grease or disposable wipes flushed down a toilet can create a clog. Tree roots occasionally push through the side of a lateral. Or, over time, a very old sewer lateral pipe can simply corrode and crack. The District maintains an extensive database of sewer permit drawings showing the location of most laterals.

Request a copy of your side sewer permit online or simply call 360-750-5876 and ask for Engineering. When filling out the online form, be sure to select “Receive a copy of my side sewer permit” in the drop-down menu.

Plant Wise

Don’t plant trees or shrubs over the sewer lateral on your property. Follow these tips in order to Plant Wise:

  • Do find your sewer lateral before planting trees or hedges.
  • Do consult with a local gardening center about suitable choices based on the plants expected root growth.
  • Do remember that there are no truly safe trees, but by using small, slower-growing trees, sewer laterals have a better chance against intrusion of tree roots.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late. Schedule regular cleaning and inspection of your sewer lateral. Professional plumbing companies can video your sewer lateral to determine condition and if any repairs are needed.

Roots Diagram

The replacement cost related to sewer lateral damage by tree roots can vary from $1,000 to $10,000; not to mention the damage it can cause in your home.

Mature trees add beauty and shade to the landscape, but their roots can cause
extensive damage to your sewer lateral. Tree roots can be very aggressive in their search for nutrients and moisture, especially during the dry season. Tree roots are attracted by water vapor that escapes from pipes to the cold soil surrounding them. Once the roots have pried their way into your sewer lateral, they fill pipes completely with hair-like masses. Wipes, grease, and other debris in sewage get caught in the roots, eventually leading to a complete obstruction.

Visit these informative websites to learn more about Planting Wise:

Roots taking over a sewer line

A picture of roots taking over a sewer line in the District service area.

A root ball removed from a line by District staff.

A root ball removed from a line by District staff.

Our Costs Are Your CostsOur Costs Are Your Costs

Clogged pumps increase operations costs, which can directly affect sewer rates and lead to an increased risk of sewer backups or overflow. With over 60 pump stations, providing reliable service means that every pump station needs to be operating efficiently and effectively and you can help.

Follow these easy steps to keep items that are harmful to sewer operation out of the sewer system:

  • Do place hair from a brush or bathtub drain in the trash can.
  • Do keep hygiene products, wipes and diaper wipes out of the toilet.
  • Do encourage friends and family to be aware of what they flush down the drains.
  • Don’t discard paper towels down the drain.
  • Don’t flush your dental floss or Q-tips down the toilet.
  • Don’t flush cigarettes down the toilet.

To ensure reliable and affordable service, make sure NOT to flush any of the following items:

  • Cloth rags
  • Paper towels
  • Dental floss
  • Human or animal hair
  • Latex
  • Hygiene products
  • Baby wipes
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Diapers

All of these items have been found in clogged pumps. Plus, they will end up in the landfill once they’ve been cleaned out of the sewer system (at a cost to our ratepayers). In 2013, over 180 tons of trash and grit were removed from the sewer system at the sewage treatment plant and sent to the landfill. Please consider saving time and money and helping maintain reliable service by putting them directly into your trash can.

Visit these helpful websites to learn more about how important it is to keep harmful items out of the sewer system:

Know Who To Call

You can call the District 24 hours a day/7 days a week at 360-750-5876.

Follow these easy tips if you have a backup in your home:

  • Do call the District at 360-750-5876.
  • Do be ready to answer a few questions regarding your situation.
  • Do be ready to take steps yourself if this is recommended as first step.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late, following the tips provided on this page can help prevent backups. If you find yourself dealing with a backup we are happy to provide helpful direction and advice on correcting the problem.

If you have a sewage backing up into your home, call the District. District staff will gather important and helpful information from you to determine the best response and may even be able to talk you through solving the problem yourself. That’s standard operating procedure. It helps to know whether it is your (private) line, or sewer lateral, or a street (public) line that is causing the problem because each requires dispatching a different set of tools/equipment – and the District wants to ensure there is NO WASTED TIME in solving your sewer problem. While your sewer lateral is your responsibility, the District can provide helpful direction and advice on correcting the problem.

If the public line is the problem, the District will promptly dispatch personnel to resolve the issue.

Know Who To Call