Dos & Don'ts
Many people do not think much about what they flush down the toilet or pour down the drain. If they don’t want it, they just flush it and forget it. This can often include a lot of materials that are not only bad for the Wastewater Collection System and Wastewater Treatment Plant but also potentially harmful to the local environment we all treasure so much.
What You Can Do
To help protect our local environment: Problem Materials
Some of the materials that can cause blockages in the lines or clog lift station pumps, leading to spills of raw sewage into the environment include:
- Grease, oil
- Dental floss
- Baby wipes
- Rubber gloves
- Various medical wastes
Other materials that will flow through the Collection System but can interfere with the Treatment Plant processes and possibly result in unsuitable materials entering the ocean, contacting sensitive animals and plants include:
- Unused medications
- Cat litter
- Photo chemicals
Do's and What You Can Do
- Call the City Wastewater Division if you have questions about or problems with your sewer line. Occasionally the sewer problem the homeowner is experiencing can be traced back to the city mains, our crews will check the mains in an effort to help you isolate the problem. On other occasions when roots or debris are cleared from private lines and flushed into the City mains they will cause a backup in the City main. If our crews are kept informed they will take steps to ensure that while a problem in 1 location is solved it does not cause another problem further down the line.
- Use only a licensed contractor or plumber to make any repairs. State law requires that any contractor performing more than $500 of work is required to have a contractor’s license. Having a licensed contractor or plumber is very important when working on sewer systems as there are a number of unique hazards in sewer work.
- Report any sewer problems or overflows immediately. During normal business hours please call 805-772-6261 as soon as you observe the problem. Outside of normal business hours please call 805-772-6225. The quicker a sewer spill is responded to, the less of a threat to the environment and human health it becomes.
- Recycle motor oil, paint, and other toxic materials at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. For hours of operation at our local Waste Water Treatment Plant please see SLO County IWMA and look for Morro Bay.
- Locate your building's outside clean out and backflow prevention device. If you know where these facilities are you will be much better equipped to deal with any sewer problem that may arise. While you have an active sewer spill is not a good time to be looking for your clean out or backflow device.
- Deposit all cooking grease in the trash. While it may seem harmless to dump that hot grease down the drain, cooking grease as it cools will congeal and form a solid mass blocking the flow of sewage in either your private lateral or in the sewer main.
- Maintain your private sewer lateral. The line running from your home out into the street is referred to as a sewer lateral. This lateral is the property of, and the responsibility of the homeowner. If your lateral is improperly maintained it can lead to costly repairs and sewer spills.
- Flush cat litter or feces down the toilet. Recent scientific studies have shown a link between sea otters and the feline disease, toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii is the tiny, single celled parasite linked to many of the otter strandings in our region and across the state. The parasite is known to originate in domestic cats and other felines, who spread it through their feces. In order to minimize the risk of this disease to otters, used cat litter should be placed in the garbage for disposal at the landfill. To minimize the risk of pollution from runoff water into storm drains, creeks, and eventually the ocean, it is recommended that people pick up after their outdoor cats (and dogs) whenever possible. It is especially important to remember that pregnant women should not handle cat litter or feces due to potential health risks from T. gondii to their unborn child.
- Dispose of medical wastes, dental floss, clothes, baby wipes, diapers, rubber gloves, or similar items down the drain. These items can easily clog sewer pumps and in many cases pose a hazard to both the environment and the Collections system workers.
- Flush unwanted medications down the drain. These materials can remain in the environment and in some cases pass through our treatment process intact. In response to a growing demand for a safe and convenient way to dispose of household medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, your local pharmacies and the SLO County IWMA have teamed up to provide a FREE home generated disposal program. See the link below for more information.