MSD Project Clear: Don’t FOG Up Your Pipes

Properly dispose of fats, oils, and grease this holiday season

MSD Project Clear (MSDPC) is urging the community to protect their property and the environment this holiday season by properly disposing of fats, oils, and grease (FOG), instead of putting them down the drain. Thanksgiving is the peak time for plumbing problems, basement backups and sewer overflows created by pouring FOG down the drain.

“With the COVID-19 public health guidelines currently in place, we expect a significant rise in the number of first-time Thanksgiving dinner cooks as families who would normally celebrate the holiday together will be confined to smaller groups,” said Bess McCoy with MSD Project Clear Public Affairs.

McCoy noted the dangers to property by improperly disposing of FOG, which is especially prevalent with first-time cooks.

“FOG from butter, gravy, cooking oil, and sauces can look as harmless as liquids, and many people dispose of these substances down their drains,” McCoy said. “When they cool, however, FOG becomes thick and sticky, adhering to the pipes of your home and the region’s wastewater system. This has the potential to clog the pipes in your home, producing backups or other problems. It can also create problems for neighbors such as basement backups and sewer overflows into yards or streets.”

FOG gets into MSDPC’s sewer collection system mainly from residential customers pouring these substances down their drains. In fact, more of the FOG-related overflows in 2020 are occurring in residential areas which may suggest that people may not be aware of the danger and therefore are aren’t disposing of FOG properly.

Fats, oils and grease are a byproduct of cooking and are mostly found in the following:

  • Meats
  • Cooking oil
  • Lard or shortening
  • Butter or margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Food scraps
  • “Hidden oils” such as salad dressings, syrup, batter, cheese, and whipping cream

The MSDPC FOG program was designed to reduce the possibility of sewer pipe blockages and overflows by educating the community about how FOG affects the sewer system and how customers can properly dispose of these substances.

Fall and early winter see more FOG issues than any other time of year, particularly around the holiday cooking season. But since 2004, our region has seen nearly a 75% reduction in grease-related sewer overflows, due in part to better education and the community’s help in preventing FOG from entering our sewer system. “We are asking the community to help us continue this trend,” McCoy said. “So don’t FOG up our pipes this holiday season!”

To work effectively, sewer systems need to be properly maintained. MSDPC encourages all customers to do their part in maintaining their home’s system and to use proper disposal methods as provided below.

What Can You Do?

  • Wipe visible FOG and food scraps from plates, pots, and utensils into the trash for disposal.
  • Never pour FOG down your sink drain, garbage disposal, or the sewer system


  • Pour cooled FOG into a container such as empty pet food, vegetable, or coffee cans. Allow the material to cool and solidify.
  • Secure the lid and place it in the trash when full.  Lids are available at your local municipality or at MSD’s Administrative Offices.
  • Encourage your neighbors to keep FOG out of the sewer system.