City asks residents to keep cooking grease out of drains

WICHITA — Wichita city officials are asking residents to stop dumping cooking grease, fats and oils down drains.

In 2010, 19 of the 29 reported incidents of sewer backups into basements and sewage overflows onto the ground were directly related to grease stoppages in residential areas, said Bill Perkins, the city's sewer maintenance manager.

"Even a tablespoon of bacon grease here and there adds up," Perkins said. "People think of it as a liquid going down. But eventually it's going to congeal, it's going to stop somewhere."

He didn't have a cost estimate for the increased stoppages.

The city must regularly clean 2,100 miles of sewer lines. But residents are responsible for cleaning out private lines.

"A backup, it could be a small thing," Perkins said, "or it could run into thousands of dollars."

He encouraged residents to put small amounts of grease in a can or sop it up with a paper towel and put either in the trash. Larger amounts should be taken to the Sedgwick County hazardous waste collection site at 812 Stillwell.