Local News

Raleigh Says Bye-Bye to Disposals

Posted March 17, 2008 6:13 a.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2008 5:45 p.m. EDT

— Raleigh began disposing of garbage disposals Monday, banning new or replacement installations. But opponents to the ban plan to put the City Council through the grinder over the move.

The disposal ban, which the City Council approved two weeks ago, is among the first in the country. Violators face fines of up to $25,000 per day.

Under the ban, homeowners can continue to use existing disposals, but no new devices can be installed and existing ones can't be replaced when they quit working. Homes that have obtained city permits and are already under construction will be allowed to keep their disposals, officials said.

Some builders and residents said they would protest the disposal ban at Tuesday's council meeting.

"I don't think this has been handled properly at all," resident Caroline McCall said. "I feel that it was a knee-jerk reaction."

City officials said putting food and grease through a disposal and into the municipal sewer system clogs the lines and frequently causes back-ups and overflows.

Raleigh has had almost 100 sewer overflows in the last three years, with raw sewage sometimes flowing into area streams. The state Division of Water Quality has threatened to fine the city for each overflow if it doesn't correct the problem.

Mayor Charles Meeker said disposals also waste about 500,000 gallons of water a day citywide.

"I suspect that, once the public understands the environmental problems and the water wasted, they'll understand this is the right thing to do," Meeker said.

McCall and developer Richard Gaylord said they don't understand the city's action.

"They have no way of knowing if the grease spill (causing a sewer overflow) came from a garbage disposal or where the grease came from," McCall said.

"I don't think people had forewarning," Gaylord said. "I think there is some confusion out there as to how this will be implemented and what the parameters are."

The ban also has come under fire from City Councilman Philip Isley, who missed the March 4 vote on the issue, and from the mayors of Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon.

The six towns are part of the municipal water and sewer system, so Raleigh's regulations apply to residents in those towns as well. The other mayors said they should have been consulted before Raleigh enacted the disposal ban.

Isley said he plans to ask council members to take a step back and study the issue in committee, but he said he might not have the votes to support the move.