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Recent grease blockages called 'fatbergs' cause sewage leaks in Tampa area waterways

The city of Tampa said when grease and non-flushable wipes combine it can cause problems at pump stations.

TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of gallons of wastewater overflowed into Tampa Bay area waterways after the city said grease blockages caused problems in the sewer system.

Apparently, when fats, oils and grease and non-flushable wipes combine in pump stations, it creates a blockage, also known as a "fatberg." Their an industry-wide problem that often leads to sanitary sewer overflows at pump stations or manholes onto public roads and sidewalks. 

In an incident reported on Feb. 19, city workers from the Tampa Wastewater Department found a wastewater overflow near Sugarcreek Drive. Officials say it was caused by a grease blockage in a gravity sewer.

Due to the overflow, somewhere around 2,295 gallons of sewage spilled into a nearby stormwater inlet and a ditch that runs into the Tampa Bay Bypass Canal. 

On the same day but in an area near North Howard Avenue, the Wastewater Department found another grease blockage in a gravity sewer. About 5,400 gallons of wastewater spilled into a stormwater inlet that discharges into the Hillsborough River, the FDEP said. 

Sewer cleaners weren't able to salvage any of the wastewater in either incident. Water samples have been collected to inspect in case a public notice is necessary. 

In an effort to avoid "fatbergs," the city of Tampa asks the community to stop flushing wipes and stop pouring grease down your drains. 

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