help prevent sewer spills

The City of Monroe's Water Resources Department is asking customers for their help to prevent sanitary sewer spills, ensure the sustainability of the sanitary sewer system, and in turn lower operational costs which leads to customer savings. 

The City of Monroe has recently experienced two reportable sanitary sewer spills (February 21 and March 2) that were caused by debris, grease, and roots. There were five reported sanitary sewer spills in 2023, three of which were caused by grease and debris. 


One of the main causes of sewer spills comes from grease accumulation when residents pour grease down their sink drains. This grease comes from meat fats, lard, shortening, butter and margarine, cooking oil (including salad oil and marinades), sauces, baking goods, food scraps, and dairy products. 

This grease is liquid at high temperatures, but becomes solid at room temperature. When poured down the sink, the grease begins to solidify inside the pipes which causes buildup, restricts the flow of sewage, and clogs the pipes. 

Over time, this hardened grease can cause raw sewage to backup into your home, overflow into yards, streets, parks, and waterways, or even cause pipes to burst. 


help prevent sewer spills

The best thing you can do is prevent grease from reaching the sewer system by following these best practices: 

-Never pour grease or oil down the sink or into the toilet. 
-Do not wash fryers/griddles, pots/pans, and plates with water until oil and grease are removed. 
-Do not use hot water to rinse grease off surfaces. 
-Do not put food scraps down the garbage disposal.* Use a strainer in the sink to catch food scraps, and dispose in the trash. 
-Scrape grease and food scraps into a disposable container like an old coffee can, or place in the trash (after cooling). 
-Remove oil and grease from kitchen utensils, equipment and food preparation areas with scrapers/towels/brooms.
-Keep grease out of wash water.

*Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the sewer system. Hot water and detergents that claim to dissolve grease pass it down the line and cause problems elsewhere. 


Another major cause of sanitary sewer spills is debris, such as “flushable” wipes and other hygiene products, that builds up over time and clogs pipes. 

These wipes and other items do not break down in sewer or septic systems and can damage your home’s internal plumbing and the City’s sanitary sewer system. As a result, flushing these wipes can clog your toilet and/or create sewage backups into your home or your neighborhood. 

Additionally, these wipes can cause significant damage to pipes, pumps, and other wastewater treatment equipment. 

Residents are encouraged to only flush toilet paper. Disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels should NEVER be flushed, and disposed of in the trash. 


prevent sewer spills handout

The City of Monroe operates its sanitary sewer collection system in compliance with North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) requirements. 

The City is proactive in meeting the requirements of the NCDEQ Collection System Permit and exhibits reasonable care in preventing sanitary sewer blockages in the City’s System. This includes a comprehensive maintenance program of sewer cleaning, inspection, and rehabilitation. 

In order to keep our wastewater system functioning properly, the Water Resources Department utilizes the following preventative maintenance procedures: visual inspection, TV of lines, smoke testing, jet washing and root cutting, and sewer main replacement. 

For more information on sewer blockages, visit:

To view a copy of the City’s Annual Waste Water System Report, call (704) 282-4601 or visit: