Sewer Overflow Protection Awareness

Help Prevent Sewer Backups and Overflow

Sewer Overflow Protection is a shared responsibility. Everyone can be a potential contributor to sewer problems and a potential victim of those problems. To help keep the campus, the Bay and the environment clean for the health and enjoyment of all, residents, employees, and sewer agencies must do their part to prevent and reduce the risk of a sewer overflow.

Common Causes of Sewer Backups


Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) are one of the main causes of sewer clogs and overflows. The fats, oils and grease used in cooking regularly get washed down kitchen drains. The fats, oils, and grease build up in sewer pipes over time and create blockages. Over time, clogs and blockages may cause severe sewage backups, manhole overflows, and damage to sewage pumping stations, potentially resulting in costly repairs and harm to local waterways and the environment.


Know what you flush! “Flushable” wipes are anything but flushable. Even if products are marketed as "flushable", "disposable," or “sewer-and-septic-safe,” wipes should never be flushed.

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Sewer Overflow Protection Outreach Flyer

Help Prevent Sewer Backups and Overflow [Flyer]

Don’t be Responsible for a Clog

Understand FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease)


  • Meat fats
  • Lard
  • Shortening
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Fatty/greasy food scraps
  • Baked goods and pastries
  • Cream-based sauces
  • Cooking oil
  • Oily salad dressing

Please note hot water, liquid soap, and garbage disposals do not grind up and wash away FOG byproducts. While “hot soapy water” serves to carry FOG byproducts a few feet down the drain, once the water starts to cool, fats, oils, and grease also cool and collect clog pipes.

Tips to help prevent a FOG clog

  • Keep fats, oils, dairy products, grease, or greasy foods out of the sink and the garbage disposal. Garbage disposals only break up food into smaller pieces and those pieces of FOG can easily accumulate and stick to the inside of your sewer pipe.
  • Pour cooking fats, oils, and grease (FOG) into a container with a tight-sealing lid. The oil-filled containers can be disposed of in a trash bin on your designated trash day. You can also freeze the FOG container in a freezer and place it in the trash the same day as pickup.
  • When cleaning a pot or pan after cooking, pour off the grease into a container as mentioned above. Next, dry-wipe the pan with a paper towel or napkin before placing in the sink to soak.
    Do Not soak a greasy pan without removing excess grease, fat, or oil.

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Watch Video

Play video
FOG Explainer [Video]

Save the Pipes

Don't Flush Wipes!

Wipes, household waste, and personal hygiene products belong in the trash bin or compost (if appropriate). Unlike toilet paper, these products do not break down. When flushed down the toilet, these items bind together and may cause severe sewage backups, manhole overflows, and damage to sewage pumping stations, potentially resulting in costly repairs and harm to local waterways and the environment.


  • Baby wipes, wet wipes, facial wipes, or cleaning wipes and pads
  • Tampons, applicators, pads, and other feminine hygiene products or wrappers
  • Diapers, bandages, stickers or tape
  • Paper towels, tissues
  • Dental floss, whitening strips and their wrappers
  • Q-tips/cotton swabs, cotton balls, makeup pad
  • Hair
  • Cigarette butts (Please note UC Berkeley is a tobacco & smoke free campus)
  • Condoms and their wrappers
  • Kitty litter and dog waste bags
  • Unused or expired prescription medicine


Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed. Even though some products such as wipes and baby diapers may claim to be flushable, they are not.

Only flush the following:

  • Human waste
  • toilet paper

Watch Video

Play video
Wipes Clog Pipes [Video]


To report sewage spills or overflowing manholes, please use the Report a Safety Concern form