Halifax Water is warning residents against dumping grease down the drain — with an educational video meant to teach about the dangers of so-called fatbergs.
Halifax Water spokesperson James Campbell told CBC's Information Morning that the problems posed by FOGs — which stands for fats, oils and grease — have been going on for years, but that the utility can't address the issue without the help of residents.
"We've been spending millions trying to improve the infrastructure, but even if you have the newest infrastructure in the world, wastewater systems are designed to treat human waste and toilet paper only. They're not designed to treat anything else."
'How to bacon responsibly'
On March 9, Halifax Water released a video titled 'How to Bacon responsibly."
According to the video, people dumping grease into the sewer system is sending the quality of Halifax's pipes down the drain.
Campbell said Halifax Water's 170 pumping stations — which service 2,500 kilometres of pipes — are frequently clogged by fatbergs, which are "congealed grease from bacon, mayonnaise, butter, salad dressing, it's all been poured down the drain and turns into a big glob in the sewer system."
Suction trucks needed
In the video, Halifax Water crews visit a Halifax Water pumping station, at which grease has built up a layer of scum nearly a foot thick.
Getting rid of that scum, Campbell said, is a messy and expensive process requiring a equipment such as a vacuum truck, that suctions out the grease and disposes of it at a facility.
It isn't just pumping stations that are affected, said Campbell.
"The biggest problem is if it backs up into someone's home."
Prevention is key
Suction trucks and plumbers don't have to come to the rescue — Campbell suggests making sure grease should be poured in a jar, or greasy dishes are wiped with a napkin, which should then be dumped in the green bin.
Restaurant owners should ensure grease traps are regularly maintained.
Campbell said these suggestions don't mean people have to stop eating bacon — just that they should be careful how they manage the aftermath.
"I love bacon too, it's quite magical. We're not saying stop eating bacon, we're not going down that road," he said.
"We're just saying stop throwing that leftover grease down the drain."