Kennewick grease recycling program unclogging pipes

Kennewick grease recycling program unclogging pipes »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- You probably know you shouldn't send grease and oil down the drain, but you may think a small amount here or there won't hurt.

When a whole city does that, it ends up costing taxpayers big time. Kennewick spends $125 thousand a year on the fallout from grease.

Sue Johnson refuses to dump her cooking oil down the drain.

"I'll take the chicken oil or what ever and pour it over the dog food and use it that way," she says.

She was surprised to learn Kennewick spends six figures every year to clean up after those who dump their oil and grease down the drain.

"It's a lot of money. I don't know what normally something like that, you know if we weren't doing that, what would we be spending the money on?" she asked.

All of that fat and grease and oil that normally goes down your drain, ends up at the Kennewick Waste Water Facility, but since this is a biological process, those organisms that would normally break down that organic material can't touch the fat and oil, so it sits.

"Having Cameras that actually go down in the sewer line, you can see the effects it has on the infrastructure as well as sewer back-ups around the city it backs up, it causes costly dumps," say Kennewick Pre-treatment Water Specialist Gina Morgan.

It's why Kennewick set up an oil and grease recycling program.
It's available at the transfer station on 27th and Ely. In the six months since the program started, Kennewick has recycled more than 1,400 pounds of grease. The city is hoping by this time next year, it will cut the yearly grease-cleaning budget.

Putting money towards water treatment improvements instead.
And on top of that, for every pound of oil and grease donated, the recycling company donates up to six cents towards the "Kennewick Cares" program. This offers assistance to people who can't afford their utility bills.

"Being able to take this used oil and turn it into something useful, bio fuels, animal feed, things of that nature." Morgan added.

Which makes it a win-win, as long as people stop clogging up the works.

Kennewick also made new rules for restaurants. Every restaurant in the city must have a grease trap installed by the end of next year.