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Newsletter- The Utility Pipeline

APRIL 22 EARTH DAY 2015: It's Our Turn to Lead
Earth Day Promo.png

Earth Day turns 45 this year. Before April 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic emissions into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream; that was perfectly legal. They could not be taken to court to stop it. There was no EPA.

Prior to 1970, there was no Clean Air Act - no Clean Water Act. There were no legal or regulatory procedures put into place yet to protect our environment.

Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in cities across the U.S., and it worked! In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This year, on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the slogan is "It's Our Turn to Lead".  On Earth Day, we need to take a stand so that together, we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead, so our world leaders can follow by example.

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 In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply.  This Act authorized the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against naturally and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.

Every day, millions of Americans receive high quality drinking water from their public water systems -which can be publicly or privately owned.  There are currently more than 170,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans.  The US EPA, states and water systems work together to make sure that these standards are met.

Originally, the SDWA focused primarily on treatment as the way to provide safe drinking water, but the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 1986 and 1996 to include actions which protect drinking water and its sources: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells.  The amendments also specified operator training, funding for water system improvements, and public information as important components of providing safe drinking water.  These  methods ensure the quality of our drinking water by protecting it from source to tap.

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  •  Ebola cannot spread through the water supply
    • Ebola survives in water for only a few minutes because water does not provide the same environment as our bodily fluids.  Our bodily fluids have a higher salt concentration.  Once in water, the virus takes in the water in an attempt to equalize the osmotic pressure which causes the cells to swell and burst which in turn kills the virus.

  • Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne, or airborne illness
    • Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads throughout the human population from human-to-human transmission.  You must have direct contact with infected bodily fluids (e.g., blood, vomit, feces) to contract the virus.

For more information regarding Ebola visit:

World Health Organization (WHO)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CNN Interview:

Tips to Reduce Water Usage

To help conserve water due to the emergency drought situation in Kansas:

  • Take 5 minute or less showers.
  • Make sure dishwasher is full before running.
  • Check for any possible leaks:    
    • A family of 4 should use around 12,000 gallons of water.  If the usage is higher, a leak may be possible.
    • Check your meter before and after a 2 hour period of no water use.  If the meter has changed, there might be a leak.
    • Check your pipe fittings under the kitchen sink for any water outside the pipe.
    • Check for "silent" toilet leaks by placing food coloring in the tank and wait to see if any color appears in the bowl.
    • Turn the water on in the shower and check for drips where the shower head meets the pipe stem.
    • Check the inground sprinkler system to make sure there is no damage due to frost or freezing.
    • Turn faucet off while brushing teeth.
    • Wash full loads of laundry. 

Grease - How it Affects the Sewer Pipes
Grease blockage in sewer pipe
Grease is "hydrophobic," meaning it floats on top of water and adheres to other material such as a sewer pipe.  Grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes, in both private lines and public lines.  Over time, the grease can build up and block large portions of the sewer line.  Large amounts of oil and grease in waste water can cause sewer lift station failures, wastewater treatment plant problems and environmental concerns.  As grease continues to build, large masses of grease break off and create a blockage downstream.  Grease is one waste that the sewer system cannot handle.  Grease has to be kept out of the system.

Why Grease is a Problem
Grease, a byproduct of cooking comes from meat fats, lard, oil, shortening, butter, margarine, food scraps, baking goods, sauces and dairy products.  When washed down the sink, grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes on your property and public property.  Overtime, grease will block the entire pipe.  Home garbage disposals do NOT keep grease out of the plumbing system.  Garbage disposals only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from doing down the drain.  Commercial additives, including detergents, claiming to dissolve grease may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.  The result can be:

  • Raw seweage overflowing in your home, your neighbor's home, or business;
  • An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the home or business owner;
  • Raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards and streets;
  • Potential contact with disease causing organisms;
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs for local sewer departments, which causes higher sewer bills for customer;
  • Rancid odors

Do's and Do Not's for Grease Handling:


  • DO - place cooled cooking oil, poultry and meat fats in sealed non-recyclable conatiners and discard with regular garbage;
  • DO - use paper towels to wipe residual grease or oil off of dishes, pots and pans prior to washing them;
  • DO - use a grease can.  Opened soup or vegetable cans work well for storage purposes.  Pour grease and oil into a can and store in freezer until the can is full.  Discard in the trash when the can is full.


  • DO NOT - use a garbage disposal or food grinder.  Grinding food before rinsing down the drain does not remove food, oil and grease.  It just makes the pieces smaller.  Even non-greasy food scraps can plug your home's sewer lines.  Do not put food of any kind down the drain.
  • DO NOT - pour cooking oil, pan drippings, bacon grease, salad dressings or sauces down the sink or toilet or into street gutters or storm drains.
  • DO NOT - use cloth towels or rags to scrape plates or clean greasy or oily dishware.  When the rags are washed, the grease will end up in the sewer.
  • DO NOT - run water over dishes, pans, fryers and griddles to wash oil and grease down the drain.
  • DO NOT - dump cooking oil, poultry fat and grease into the kitchen sink or the toilet.
  • DO NOT - use hot water and soap to wash grease down the drain.  The grease will cool and harden in your pipes or in the sewer down the line.
  • DO NOT - dump used fryer oil or motor oil into the street or house drains.  When poured down house or storm drains, oil may travel to your local stream, bay or harbor where it can harm underwater vegetation and aquatic life.

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