December 6, 2022

Sewer F.O.G.

The sewer and wastewater systems are essential components of Suisun City’s health and safety infrastructure.

While these systems do an excellent job of removing unwanted wastes from homes and businesses, there are some materials people often put down their drains that clog or damage their sewer laterals and the public sewer mains.  These materials are collectively referred to as F.O.G. – Fats, Oils and Grease.

F.O.G. Basics

FOG InfoFats, oils and grease are the components of our diet that make food extra tasty and that doctors want most people to avoid. You can add plumbers and sewer system operators to the list of folks who would prefer you minimize F.O.G.

What is F.O.G.? Here as some common items:

  • Cooking oils
  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Meat fats
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Dairy products
  • Fatty foods

When fats, oils and grease (F.O.G.) are poured down the drain, they solidify and adhere to the inside of the pipes, laterals and mains.  Running either hot or cold water down the drain with F.O.G. doesn’t help prevent this buildup from occurring.

When you couple F.O.G. inside your pipes with the items often put through garbage disposals, you begin to form a potential sewer clog. Particularly harmful food items are rice, noodles, fruits, vegetables, egg shells and coffee grounds – all of which can be composted instead.

Over time, the F.O.G. material combined with the food waste can form an actual plug in household or business pipes, sewer laterals and even move down into public sewer mains.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 50% of all sewer overflows are caused by F.O.G.

Prevent F.O.G. Problems

Prevent sewer F.O.G. from damaging your drains, sewer laterals and the public sewer main by putting cool fats, oils and grease into sealed containers and placing it in the residual garbage container collected by Republic Services / Solano Garbage.

If you have large quantities of used cooking oil, contact Republic Services directly about turning it in for recycling.

F.O.G. Resources

  •   FOG Information Card (596.5 KiB, 3,068 hits)
    Fats, Oils and Grease are major hazards to drain pipes, sewer laterals and public sewer mains. Learn about the hazards and how you can protect yourself. (English and Espanol)

  •   Sewer Smart Pamphlet - Fats, Oils & Grease (2.0 MiB, 3,506 hits)
    This pamphlet contains information on why Fats, Oils & Grease (F.O.G.) are the main reason your sewer line will backup, and how to help prevent it from happening to you.


Sewer Laterals

The sewer is the last thing most people think about. But once it fails, that’s all people impacted think about.

A primary component of the City’s sewer system is actually owned and controlled by each individual property owner in Suisun City, and is the most prone to failure. But it’s also one of the easiest to maintain.

Sewer Lateral Basics

Diagram - Private Sewer Lateral

This component is the sewer lateral.  It is the pipe that connects your home or business to the public sewer main. Every drain in your home or building is connected to the sewer lateral that runs from your structure to the public sewer main in the street.

The vast majority of sewer backups are the result of a clog or failure in the sewer lateral.

Sewer laterals are accessed through cleanouts usually located in the ground just outside your home or building. These are often protected under round covers flush with the ground or pavement with the word “sewer,” “clean out” or “C.O.” imprinted on them.  If there is a sewer problem in your home, this is usually where the plumber will access your drains.

In some cases, particularly in newer neighborhoods, there is a second cleanout on a sewer lateral located near the sidewalk or street. This is often referred to as a curbside cleanout.  The purpose of this cleanout is to allow Public Works Maintenance staff to access the spot where the sewer lateral joins the public sewer main.

When one is present, the curbside cleanout is the demarcation of an upper and lower lateral.  The upper lateral runs from the house to the curbside cleanout, and the lower lateral runs from the curbside cleanout to the public sewer main.

Responsibility & Maintenance

Sewer laterals and public sewer mains are typically constructed as part of a new subdivision or at the time of construction.  When the project is complete, the public sewer main is dedicated to the City and the sewer laterals and cleanouts transfer to the owner of the home or building.

In most communities, including Suisun City, the entire sewer lateral – from the house or building to the public sewer main – and all cleanouts are the responsibility of the property owner to inspect and maintain.

In situations where there is a curbside cleanout, Public Works Maintenance will take responsibility for the lower lateral. The upper lateral and the curbside cleanout remain the responsibility of the property owner.

Clogs in sewer laterals are often the cause of backups into homes and buildings. Property owners can install backflow prevention devices at their sewer lateral cleanouts to help prevent backups.  While these devices provide some protection, their manufacturers do recommend periodic maintenance.

The Sewer Smart Pamphlet below discusses sewer lateral maintenance and backflow devices in some detail.


  • Sewer Smart website
  •   Sewer Smart Pamphlet (560.8 KiB, 4,042 hits)
    This pamphlet provides information regarding sewer laterals, property owner ownership & responsibilities, and maintenance tips to keep your sewer lines flowing.

  •   Sewer Smart Pamphlet - Fats, Oils & Grease (2.0 MiB, 3,506 hits)
    This pamphlet contains information on why Fats, Oils & Grease (F.O.G.) are the main reason your sewer line will backup, and how to help prevent it from happening to you.