Sewer systems strained as people shelter in place

May 18, 2020

While people have been staying home more under COVID-19 restrictions, the Henry County Water Authority has experienced an increase in sewage clogs and debris.

Officials say people are flushing items that should not be flushed, like disinfecting wipes, rags, and paper towels. And they say with more people cooking at home, more cooking oil and grease is getting poured down drains. As a result, the utility is dealing with additional strain on its assets which is causing damage to its equipment and infrastructure and increasing maintenance and costs. This is in addition to the Authority’s continual maintenance efforts to address line clogs, sewer spills, and overflows, which officials say will get even worse, if this trend continues.

“We’ve noticed an uptick in grease buildup in the lines and rags causing blockages in the lines,” said Tara Brown, Henry County’s Sewer Maintenance Manager. “You flush it and you just assume that it goes away but if earlier that day you had dumped grease down the drain and it started to clog up those pipes… then, when you flush those rags, it’s just going to build up. What you usually have is a 4 inch diameter pipe coming out of your house, it doesn’t take much to clog that up and so you would be calling a plumber to come out and clear that blockage for you.”

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