Thanksgiving leftovers fuel plumbers & sewage treatment

November 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Most people think of Black Friday as the day retailers start turning a profit, but it's also a big day for plumbers. Thanksgiving leftovers can cause clogs from your sink all the way to city sewers.

After the turkey is cut and the gravy is gone, the guests leave and a snake may be the next to arrive. Thanksgiving is big business for plumbers called in to clean up the holiday mess.

"So we've just got stubborn grease that likes to close back up in the pipe," Kyle Matuszewicz told Action News as he snaked a Clovis family's sink.

Grease is the most common culprit causing clogged sinks and pipes, but Matuszewicz says he sees potatoes, celery, and every ingredient from every Thanksgiving recipe.

"It's called a garbage disposal and they hear that word and they just think, 'Oh, this thing is indestructible. We can put anything we want down there and it'll just eat it up and it disappears,'" he said.

When the plumber's job is done, and the water swirls down the drain, the city's sewage treatment facility takes over. If it makes the trip there without causing problems, the grease is actually a bonus.

The city recycles fats, oils and grease from restaurants. And when the grease comes from homes, it passes through a couple sorters before getting to a giant sewage pool that seagulls apparently mistake for the beach.

"The grease will flow to the top and we have skimmers that slowly make a circular motion to rake them off into a hopper," said Steve Kohout with the Fresno public works department.

A couple pumps push the grease to 1.8 million gallon digesters where bacteria turns it into methane gas fueling the entire facility -- Thanksgiving leftovers turned into post-holiday power.


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