Local News

Raleigh Sends Disposals Down Drain

Posted March 4, 2008
Updated March 5, 2008

— To cut down on sewer back-ups, the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to prohibit new garbage disposals from being installed or connected to the municipal sewer system.

The new ordinance takes effect March 17 for customers in Raleigh, Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon. Violators face fines of up to $25,000 a day and the loss of their water service.

Homeowners and businesses can continue using existing disposals –  city officials have encouraged them to voluntarily disconnect the devices – but they cannot be replaced under the ordinance if they conk out.

"Food and grease in the sewer lines is not acceptable for environmental reasons," City Manager Russell Allen said, noting the ordinance reinforces rules against sending food scraps down the drain.

Raleigh has had 99 sewer overflows since 2005 that were caused by grease clogging sewer lines, according to state environmental officials. Sewage from the overflows can run into nearby streams, creating environmental problems.

The state Division of Water Quality has threatened to fine the city for sewer overflows of more than 1,000 gallons.

The ban on new disposals was included in a wastewater management plan presented to the City Council in 1999. The council approved some recommendations in the plan but never acted on the disposal installation prohibition.

One of the earlier recommendations created the character of "Neusie the Fish" for an advertising campaign to remind people not to dump grease down the drain.

Although they signed off on the disposal ordinance Tuesday, some council members questioned how it could be enforced.

"When one goes out of service, you can go pick one up. It's not rocket science," Councilman Thomas Crowder said.

Allen said he plans to work with local plumbers and contractors to make sure the new rules are enforced. Home inspections also will catch some violators, he said.

Russ Buxton, a manager at a Lowe's Home Improvement store, said he doubts the ordinance will prevent people from putting grease down the drain.. He said he expects residents will fight to keep their garbage disposal.

"A lot of us are used to modern conveniences. It's like saying, 'You can't use your dishwasher. You'll have to hand-wash your dishes,'" Buxton said, noting his store sells 10 to 40 disposals a week.


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  • chivegas Mar 7, 2008

    I had to laugh when I read this, until I realized they were serious... What a joke. Everyone on our city council should be fired (if they have real jobs, they should be fired from them too, because they are obviously incompetent). Next thing you know they'll outlaw toilet paper!

  • catwoman1 Mar 7, 2008

    Just drive to another area and buy your garbage disposal. Install it yourself..no problemo...what next??? Since they are trying to limit house sizes, number of cars parked at a home, pets..let's just start limiting folks from having so many children and clogging up the schools...The spread of communism has begun and some folks are too shallow to see it.

  • tarheel1980 Mar 6, 2008

    And by the way, you don't even need a disposal to pour grease down the drain. Anybody stupid enough to do that will do it with a disposal or without.

  • tarheel1980 Mar 6, 2008

    It's past time for Dale Crisp and the City of Raleigh to take some responsibility for running the city and quit trying to blame everything on the citizens. This is one more example of a reduction in services and no reduction in taxes. Every other city in the state seems to be able to manage their systems with disposals. New York City tried this ban for a few years, but then abandoned it. What do the officials from these cities know that Dale and others in Raleigh haven't learned.

    It's about time they figured out that they are here to work for the citizens. Citizens should not be viewed as an inconvenience (stopping up the sewers, drinking all the water). It's time to man up and start fixing some problems. Stop passing the blame.

  • Mom2two Mar 6, 2008

    I have one and I never use it. Don't like 'em; don't need 'em. I would much prefer the space under the sink for other things; just been too lazy to remove. I agree with the other poster: compost, compost, compost!

  • Frank Downtown Mar 6, 2008

    You should recycle your veggie scraps in a composter. and grease can be used in bio-diesel cars.

  • TechRescue Mar 6, 2008

    "I want proof that everyone on the city council has disconnected their disposals....
    SL 88"

    Are you crazy? That would be like asking the School Board to send their kids to public schools, the DOT to make coherent decisions, or our politicians to be honest.

    Remember the Thanksgiving after Hurricane Katrina? Easley urged North Carolinians to stay home and save gas because the pipelines from Louisiana were not flowing. Then he called the Sate Patrol and got them to fly him to his beach house in Southport.

    Don't you realize that rules and regulations are only for the non-elite?

  • colliedave Mar 6, 2008

    Yes, grease in the system IS a problem. But I bet my bottom dollar the problem is not tied to directly disposals but Southern cooking. I guess this will be the next thing Comrade Meeker and his minions will ban. After all, they have our best intersts at heart.

  • SL 88 Mar 6, 2008

    I want proof that everyone on the city council has disconnected their disposals....

  • babyluv Mar 6, 2008

    The City of Raleigh wants us to conserve...okay I got that point, Now we have been asked to change our commodes to low flush types....okay then.....WHERE IS MY COST OF LIVING INCREASE IN MY SALARY SO i CAN AFFORD TO MAKE THESE CHANGES. Again, I say....trying to conserve should have been in place years ago...its no secret the trouble we were coming upon but they waited too too long to start any recourse in this matter and now we as consumers have to suffer. I should not have to not run the water while I am brushing my teeth or limit my shower time. And you wonder why all of theses virus's are so prevelant now...GERM CITY, NC...should be our cities name because its a darn shame to use hand sanitizer(not an all cure) instead of hot water & soap. What is this going to lead to ...using bottled water to wash with? What resolutions are being made for our future water consumption?