CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - There's a nasty problem that's costing many Heartland cities big bucks.
There's a good chance it could cost you too.
"Grease is a fierce enemy," said Mark Brown, Perryville director of public works.
In the City of Perryville, the clogging is costing.
"It's tens of thousands of dollars a year in clean up and maintenance of grease," said Brown.
It's a nasty problem just about everywhere, Cape Girardeau and Jackson included.
"This is a problem that's worldwide," said Kent Peetz, director of wastewater utilities for the city of Jackson.
So why is it getting worse?
First, experts say it's due to all of the grease going down the drain.
Just ask any plumber.
They certainly appreciate the extra business these days, but say things are getting out of hand.
"I'd say this is considered our number one problem," said plumber Bill Bonney. "I see it all the time. I see this problem everyday."
It's not just in the residential setting.
Keith Morrow is the pre-treatment coordinator at the wastewater plant in Cape Girardeau.
"I also take care of industries and make sure they don't discharge anything that's harmful to our sewer system or our planet," said Morrow.
He works with the restaurants.
In Cape and other cities they are required to have grease traps.
However, those do not require maintenance.
"They (the restaurant owners) don't realize how often they need cleaned and how to clean them," said Angie Fields-City of Perryville.
Experts say, this is not just a grease problem.
"Wipes are one of the biggest problems that our industry as a whole is facing," said Kent Peetz.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any nastier.
"It's not a pleasant business," said Peetz.
Voters in Cape Girardeau said yes to a new, expensive, state of the art waste water treatment plant.
Want it to stay nice? Then those who run it say the community has got to step up.
"If we don't change what we do as the disposer then the industry will come up with ways to address the problem," said Todd Fulton, wastewater treatment coordinator for the city of Cape Girardeau.
And, we could all end up paying the price.
The wipe situation is so bad it's causing pumps to shut down at lift stations.
"We're up to two times a month having to pull the pump and remove large masses of rags," said Todd Fulton. "The fats, oils, and grease and the rags combine together as an unstoppable mass."
When it comes to the wipes, Fulton said it's not just the baby wipes that are the problem.
"There are wipes that are for cleaning your bathroom, then the instructions say you can just flush them down the toilet."
But, they don't break apart or degrade.
"If you're five to six years old, you know what a toilet is for, from there you learn bad habits," said Kent Peetz.
Bad habits in the bathroom and the kitchen.
"It's unpleasant, and it's gonna cost you," said Peetz.
The good news: this is all preventable!
We all know bacon grease is not to be poured down the drain.
However, many things you may not think about could also cause problems, like salad dressing, spoiled milk and ice cream.
The oils or fats in those products can harden, potentially causing you and your community plumbing nightmares.