Be a Sewer Hero: Fight Evil Villains

Today’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, who is a not-so-secret Sewer Hero!

Uncle Ben said it best: “With great flushing power comes great responsibility.” Everyone who dreams of being a Sewer Hero is wise to remember this expression.

What is a Sewer Hero? These dedicated individuals fight grime, protect the public, and battle super villains.  Let me introduce you to two of the Sewer Hero’s biggest foes:

The Sewer Hero has many enemies.  Let me introduce you to two of the Sewer Hero’s biggest foes:

The Wicked Wipes Monster

This monster seems harmless. Clever marketing encourages you to welcome it into your home. You find it in a decorative, neat package perfect for brightening the back of the

Wicked Wipes Clog Pipes!

toilet. The soft, fresh scent masks any sense of doo-m that may soon flow. Do not let its quilted softness fool you. Once you flush the Wicked Wipe Monster down a toilet, it has a way of rearing its ugly head right back out of your toilet.  Made from a durable material,  “flushable” wipes do not easily disintegrate in water. Wicked Wipes use their strength to clog pipes. The damage is evident when raw sewage is overflowing in your home, oozing from a manhole cover, or the wipes hinder our equipment at the water reclamation facility.

Be a Sewer Hero!

  • If you use wipes, be it flushable, baby, cleaning, or make-up remover wipes, put these in the trash, not the toilet.
  • Instead of using wipes, keep a small spray bottle of water by the toilet. When the time comes, fold your toilet paper into a neat square and spritz it with the water bottle. You have made a homemade wipe that cleans and flushes easily.

The Grease Menace

Yuuuummm, bacon. Who doesn’t love the meat candy? The only problem with bacon is the grease it leaves behind. It is a menace. It will try to deceive you. At a hot

The Grease Menace Stinks!

temperature, the grease looks like a liquid one can easily pour down the drain. Don’t fall into its greasy trap. Once it goes down the drain, this shape shifter attaches itself to the sides of the pipe. As more fats from items such as peanut butter, sour cream, and ranch dressing flow past, they join forces to form a league of Grease Menaces, aka FOG (Fats, Oils, & Greases). The result is a nasty FOG Clog. Nothing can get past the putrid plug it creates. When you see the items you flushed down your drain or toilet start to reappear in your home, you will know the mark of the Grease Menace.

Be a Sewer Hero!

  • NEVER pour used cooking fats, oils, or grease down the drain. Let these cool and put them in the trash.
  • Wipe out empty containers of high-fat foods. Wipe off plates covered in dressings. Do you have a dog? Let Fido do some pre-washing of your dishes.
  • Recycle used cooking oils. In Athens, GA, our Recycling Center, Landfill, and the North and Middle Oconee Water Reclamation Facilities have oil drop-off containers. The used oils are recycled and turned into biodiesels.  Drop them off!

I hope you can see how easy it is to be a Sewer Hero.  You don’t have to be bitten by a radioactive spider. There is no need to practice landing after a jump from a tall building.  No special costume is required.   The only gadget needed is a trash can to put the wipes and used cooking FOG into.

I ask you to accept this responsibility.  In turn, you keep your headquarters clean and our city flowing.  The power to be a Sewer Hero is within everyone.  Once you choose to do so, you will discover it is flushing awesome!

How to Make Perfect Bacon & Protect the Sewers

This week’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, a conflicted eater

bacon wallet

 This wallet would make        me hungry.

After years of avoiding the traditional, best-known meats (think pork, beef, and poultry), I decided I could no longer withstand the calling of bacon*.  If you have ever smelled bacon cooking, you grasp the “why” of this decision. I resolved to add this meat candy back into the rotation of my potential menu selections circa 2005.  Note that this was just before the boom in the bacon craze, which has brought us such novelty items as  bacon band-aids, bacon ties, bacon toothpaste, and bacon incense.

I do want to clarify something very important.  I won’t eat just any bacon.  It has to be crispy.  And I mean CRISPY.  If you drop it on the floor, it should break.  If it droops in the middle when you hold it, send it back for more cooking – it is raw.

I recently discovered The Perfect Way to Cook Crispy Bacon (TPW2CCB).  An added bonus is that this method makes clean-up a cinch, but we will get to that…

TPW2CCB “Recipe”

What you need for this recipe

All you need.

What You Need:

  • 1 pack of bacon in your preferred cut, smokiness, and sodium level
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking Dish
  • Paper Towels

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.  I am sure if you found this blog, you know how to turn on your oven and adjust the racks as needed.  Do it just like that.
  2. Line your baking dish with parchment paper.  Use enough to cover up the sides, too.

    20150929_065221

       Parchment paper is vital for easy clean up.

  3. Lay bacon on parchment paper in a single layer.  I fold mine in half. No particular reason other than I can fit more bacon in at one time.
  4. Bake the bacon.  Put it in the oven and let it cook for at least thirty minutes, turning it over half way through cooking time.  Depending on your desired crispiness level, you can pull it out now or let it cook a little longer.  I usually go another 5 – 10 minutes. JUST BE CAREFUL!  You can quickly go from melt-in-your-mouth perfection to burnt ash.

    20150929_073429

         Delectable, juicy, crispy      bacon that is hard to resist.

  5. Remove bacon from baking dish with tongs or fork (I know it looks good, but DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS!).  Set it on layered paper towels to absorb the excess bacon juice.
  6. Eat your delicious, juicy, crispy, perfect bacon and enjoy.

Clean-Up:

Now here is the best part.  Do nothing but digest your bacon for several hours, then come back to the mess.  When you return you will find the bacon grease has automagically turned from a messy, sewer harming liquid into an easy to dispose of solid.  Lift the grease laden parchment paper from the pan and easily dispose of it in the trash. With any luck,  your dish is still clean and you can get away without washing it.  (But that is me being lazy and I only offer this only as a suggestion.   Do not hold me responsible if you develop trichinosis.)

An added bonus to this cooking method is you unknowingly fought the Grease Menace.  We create the Grease Menace when we pour used fats, oils, and greases (FOG) down the drain.

Bacon grease is a contributor to FOG.  It begins as a liquid that looks like it can easily be disposed of down the drain with a little warm water and dish detergent.  DON’T DO THAT!  The problem starts soon after the drippings are out of sight.  Just as occurred on the parchment paper, the grease in the sewer pipes begins to cool and change from a liquid to a solid.  The solids cling to the inside of the pipes, constricting the flow of the wastewater.  Food particles, baby/”flushable” wipes, and other FOGs erroneously put down the drain will attach to this glob of grease.  Eventually, you create what we call a FOG clog.

A FOG clog is a mess so disgusting I refuse to include a photo of it here and ruin your thoughts of delightful bacon.  You have to click here to see it.  And then you can click here and see how a FOG clog can affect you directly.  And I am definitely not going to show you an example of how the bacon grease does the same thing in your arteries.  For that, click here.

Final Thoughts:

I hope you find these instructions simple, the results yummy, and the clean-up a snap.  And if you ever invite me over to eat, I’d like the bacon on my Gardenburger to be extra crispy.

*I know adding bacon back into my diet means I am no longer a pesco lacto ovo vegetarian.  Today I prefer to refer to myself as simply a picky eater.  I do not eat the beef, chicken, or most of the pig.  I know the effects a meat diet have on the environment, our water supply, and the animal.  For these reasons, I keep my bacon eating to a minimum, believing every little bit I do to cut back on meat consumption helps.

Water Professionals, you can’t live without them.

This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, GA 

We all need clean water to survive, and we wouldn’t have clean water without our water professionals.  These men and women work for water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  They clean and deliver drinking water to more than 36,000 homes and businesses, collect and treat wastewater for more than 27,000 customers, protect all of us from floods, and help to keep our waterways clean.

Send an email to savewater@athensclarkecounty.com to personally thank a water professional!

Athens-Clarke County employs more than 200 water professionals who are dedicated to protecting and managing our water. I hope you will take the time to think about them the next time you enjoy a glass a water, flush the toilet, drive on flood-free roads, or splash in the river.  Without them, we would not have the water we need to drink, fight fires, fuel our economy, or enjoy our quality of life.  The Georgia Legislature recognized their importance when they designated the first Monday in May as Water Professionals Appreciation Day.  Happy Water Professionals Day!

Water professionals have been working in Athens for a long time!

In 1880, a private water company built the first water works in the City of Athens. In the early 1890s, after years of complaints from the local residents, the city ended the private water company’s franchise and constructed a municipal water works. The first municipal water system had a capacity of 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and 16 miles of water lines serving a limited area of the community.  Today, our water system has the capacity to produce 36 MGD, with about 790 miles of water lines delivering high-quality drinking water to about 98% of our population in Athens-Clarke County. Water treatment is far more complex and the technology far more advanced than in the 1890s, but one thing has not changed – the importance of water to us all and the dedication of the individuals who provide it.

What about after the water is used?

We all know how much we depend on water in our everyday lives. Once you send water down the drain, it needs to be cleaned and recycled – this historically has been described as wastewater treatment. Now, because of the large advances in treatment technologies and regulations in the federal Clean Water Act, we reclaim, refresh, and return the water you have used.

The process is called water reclamation, because “reclaiming” means to bring the water back to its usable condition.  The high quality water produced by our water reclamation facilities can be used in irrigation and safely returned to our waterways.  We reuse it within our water reclamation facilities for daily operations, cleaning of facility equipment, and irrigation on the property, which cuts down on costs and conserves water.

There is more to water than tap and sewers.

Stormwater is water that runs off roofs, driveways, and streets into our storm drains. On its way, stormwater picks up chemicals and pollutants that contaminate our waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that stormwater (non-point source pollution) is the number 1 leading cause of pollution in today’s streams, rivers, and lakes.  The water professionals in our Stormwater Management Program are dedicated to protecting Athens-Clarke County water from the moment it runs off our streets to the moment it reaches our streams.  They also protect us from floods by building and maintaining the system of stormdrains throughout our county.

Want to learn more?

The Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office provides workshops, school programs, tours, and other opportunities for residents to learn about water.  The Water Conservation Office also facilitates conservation policy and code development, is responsible for internal water loss reduction, and ensures adequate water supply is available in the future.

Go to http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/publicutilities to learn more about your water.

 

Our Unsung Heroes: Marissa and Daphne

Thank you to all our unsung heroes for their contribution to our quality of  life here in Athens, GA!  A special shout-out to Marissa and Daphne.  They are the watchdogs of our environment. They are our unsung heroes.

The Athens-Clarke County water reclamation facilities have the capacity to treat up to 28 MGD (million gallons per day) of wastewater. The water discharged from our facilities must comply with federal, state, and local requirements and safety guidelines. How do we know our water reclamation process has removed harmful compounds and made the water safe? Samples are taken of our wastewater influent (water coming into the facility) and effluent (water discharged from facility) from all three water reclamation facilities several times every day. It is then up to our laboratory technicians, Daphne and Marissa, to analyze these water samples. Daphne and Marissa evaluate the results of their tests, record the data, and prepare reports as required by the EPA and EPD.

IMG_7014_thumb.JPG Marissa Tripp, Lab Tech_thumb.JPG
Daphne Little
Laboratory Technician
Water Resources Center
Marissa Tripp
Laboratory Technician
Water Resources Center

Properly treating our wastewater protects not only the health of humans, but also the health of our environment. Our lab technicians test the samples to determine such things as ammonia and nitrogen levels, biochemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids in the water. These tests are extremely important. For example, ammonia and nitrogen are naturally occurring components found in wastewater. Excess ammonia returned to our waterways can have harmful effects. Ammonia is especially toxic to fish and can lead to large fish kills. Excess nitrogen leads to immense algae blooms, as the algae consume and thrive on the high nitrogen levels. These blooms deplete the oxygen in the water to further harm aquatic life.(million gallons per day) of wastewater. The water discharged from our facilities must comply with federal, state, and local requirements and safety guidelines. How do we know our water reclamation process has removed harmful compounds and made the water safe? Samples are taken of our wastewater influent (water coming into the facility) and effluent (water discharged from facility) from all three water reclamation facilities several times every day. It is then up to our laboratory technicians, Daphne and Marissa, to analyze these water samples. Daphne and Marissa evaluate the results of their tests, record the data, and prepare reports as required by the EPA and EPD.

At the end of the day, Marissa and Daphne know they have done the important work necessary to make sure ACC is in compliance with the federal, state, and local standards required to protect our water resources. They are the watchdogs of our environment. They are our unsung heroes.