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Water/Sewer Service Problems and Prevention

House Shut Off Valve Installation

Don’t flush medicine down the drain

Don’t flush old or unwanted prescriptions or over-the-counter medications down the toilet or drain. When medicine is dumped down the drain or flushed down the toilet, it flows through the sewer system to the wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater treatment system was not designed to remove all pharmaceutical compounds. Medicines flushed down the drain can contaminate our lakes and streams, which can hurt fish and other aquatic wildlife. For more information click see our page "Don't flush medicine down the drain" (to the right). 

Grease Facts

Customer Service Valve Information:

Customers are encouraged to install Customer Service Valves on their water service lines. In the event of a plumbing emergency, an individual shut-off will allow you to quickly shut off the water supply and avoid costly water damage to your home. For easy access during the winter, it is recommended that the valve standpipe be at least six inches above grade and capped.

There is no charge for water turn off/on if the water is turned off and/or turned back on during regular working hours unless we are called out to the property more than once in a 3-month period. For the second, and all subsequent regular hours service calls in a 3-month period a $75 fee will be assessed to the property. After-hours and weekend service calls will incur a $190 fee. Holiday service calls will incur a $240 fee.

Grease Facts

The most common cause of sewer line failure for food service establishments is grease. Clogging of sewer pipes and drain lines are a common consequence of oil and grease in wastewater. The best way to avoid this problem is to prevent oil and grease from getting into the sewage system in the first place! This must be done by separating the gray water (kitchen wastewater) from black water (restroom wastewater), and installing a grease interceptor or grease trap to process the gray water and capture the grease.

What is a Grease Interceptor?

A grease interceptor looks very much like a septic tank. Multi-compartment sinks, pot sinks, dishwashers, and similar fixtures discharge their wastewater through a separate plumbing stub out into a grease interceptor. Grease interceptors are typically sized from 320-gallon to 10,000-gallon capacity. Upon entering the interceptor the wastewater flow slows, which allows the lighter grease to separate from the wastewater and float to the top of the interceptor where it cools. The grease will tend to collect and float in the interceptor.

Over some time, the grease will build up to a point where it needs to be removed. If not removed, the grease will work itself into the sewer system. Once grease enters the drain lines, it will clog and cause failure of the system.

What is a Grease Trap?

A grease trap is a small box ranging in size from 40-pound to 100-pound capacity. Traps have flow control valves to limit the rate of discharge to the trap. Traps are limited to handle discharge from a maximum of four fixtures, not to exceed 50 gallons per minute combined discharge rate. Dishwashers, sanitizers, and garbage disposals/grinders can not drain to traps.

How is Grease Managed?

The grease removal device should be checked daily or weekly depending on the business and the grease thickness measured. This can be done with a simple measuring rod. If the grease layer is half the thickness of the entire trap/interceptor, the grease must be removed by an approved method.

South Tahoe Public Utility District recommends that properties with grease traps/interceptors enter into a maintenance contract with a licensed pumper/hauler. The contract should specify that the hauler will make periodic inspections of grease accumulation and that the trap/interceptor will be pumped at whatever intervals are necessary to ensure that the level of grease does not exceed half the thickness of the trap/interceptor.

Before You DIG!

Call USA (Underground Service Alert) at 800-227-2600 at least 48 hours before you begin to dig or excavate on your property. The utility and phone lines will be marked where they enter your property. This marking of lines is offered at no cost and could save you loss of service and thousands of dollars in repair costs.