12304 Joerger Drive, Truckee, CA 96161 
530-587-3804

Sewer Education: What Happens Under the Streets?

Learn About the Sewer and What TSD Does to Keep It All Down There.

Truckee Sanitary District (TSD) is the public agency responsible for the conveyance of the wastewater in the sewer laterals (pipes) from your property line to the wastewater treatment plant - Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency (TTSA). Homeowners are responsible for the sewer lateral from the property line to the house. 

Some neighborhoods are on septic. Septic sewers are the responsibility of the homeowner. These areas include: Sierra Meadows, Olympic Heights, Prosser Lakeview Estates, Alder Hill, Parts of Glenshire, & East of Old Greenwood.  TSD is looking into the possibility of converting some areas from septic to TSD Sewer. If you have questions or comments regarding this, please contact our District Engineer.  
TSD's Public Outreach and Education Team gave a presentation to local group, Tahoe Silicon Mountain for their Mountain Minds Mondays event on June 14, 2021. This presentation is a great overview of the District. 

Let's talk about what happens underground in the sewer pipes after you flush...

What Happens When You Flush? 
Down the Drain and in to the Pipes the Wasterwaster goes...

Now that you know where wastewater goes, let's talk more about what NOT to put in the pipes...

Fig. 1
"Flushable" Wipes. 
While "flushable" wipes may go down the toilet when you flush, they can cause extensive damage to sewer laterals (pipes) & systems as well as treatment plants. Not only in Truckee, but around the world, "flushable" wipes have caused serious clogs in the pipes. Clogs can lead to spills, which lead to costly repairs and environmental damage. 
As you can see in the photos, the wipe (Fig. 1) has not been broken down. You can see white remnants of toilet paper (Fig. 2). Because toilet paper breaks down like it does, it can pass through laterals and treatment plant sorting machines.  Wipes can get stuck and cause other items in the lateral to get stuck causing clogs. 
Extreme clogs are known as "Fatbergs". A fatberg is a big clump of wipes, fat, oil, grease, dirt & debris trapped in the pipes creating an iceberg-like formation. For more information about fatbergs, read this article, "Meet the Fatbergs

This Washington Post article shows how bad wipes can be for the underground systems. "A nasty pandemic problem: More flushed wipes are clogging pipes, sending sewage into homes"
Fig. 2

"Fats, Oil & Grease aka FOG

When fat, oil & grease are washed down the drain, it can solidify & cause clogs in pipes. This can lead to spills, which are not only gross, but harmful to the environment. TSD prides itself on the protection of our beautiful home. In 2020, TSD crews responded to 5, category 3 spills (less than 1,000 gallons and did not reach surface waters). Our goal is to respond to less each year (if you notice a wastewater spill or smell sewer, please call us at 530-587-3804).

FOG is more than just  cooking grease. 

  • Bacon Grease
  • Lard
  • Butter/Margarian
  • Dairy Products
  • Ice Cream
  • Salad Dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Gravy
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Food Scraps

How to dispose of FOG. 

  1. Pour excess FOG into an empty aluminum can or a fat trapper (also available at the TSD booth at Truckee Community Events)
  2. Scrape pan/plate clean using a spatula or a grease squeegee (available at the TSD booth at Truckee Community Events)
  3. Wipe pan/plate with paper towel
  4. Once can is full throw it away

 

Remember, CEASE THE GREASE! 

 

Examples of FOG in Truckee sewer laterals

Common Household Items to Keep out of the Drain.

Keep these items out of the drains:

  • Coffee Grounds. Why? Coffee grounds do not break down in water, they clump together & can form clumps. 

  • Eggshells. Why? Eggshells can stick to the drain causing safe items to attach themselves to the shells. causing clumps & clogs. 

    • You can put eggshells in your garden or compost. 
  • Medications. Why? Pharmaceuticals can pollute our water & unintentionally expose not only us, but wildlife to the chemicals in these medications. 

  • Conventional Cleaning Products. Why? Like medications, cleaning products with phosphates, antibacterial agents & other  assorted compounds can be disruptive to the water ecosystem.

    • Read the labels on cleaners for proper disposal. Water-soluble & all-natural cleaning products are environmentally friendly options. 
  • Kitty Litter - Even Flushable Kitty Litter. Why? The most obvious answer is, kitty litter can clump and clog drains. the less obvious answer is, cat feces can harbor the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii, which can cause the disease toxoplasmosis. It dos not get destroyed during water treatment and can be a threat to marine species. 

    • Throw litter in the trash.  You could also try "green" litter options made from wood shavings or recycled newspaper.
  • Produce Stickers. Why? You wouldn't think this would be such an issue, surprisingly these little stickers can create problems in your drain as well as in the water treatment plant. They can get caught in screens, filters, hoses & pumps. If they do get through they will end up in the water. 

    • Remove stickers and throw in the trash. Most produce stickers are not recyclable.

 

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