Caution! Officials have reported increased clogging activity in your area. Are your pipes safe?

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The Problem in Our Pipes

The Crime

The improper disposal of “flushable” wipes, fats, oils, and grease (FOG), and other foreign items in the sink and toilet causes expensive residential and commercial plumbing problems. Flushing unwanted or expired medication can also affect municipal sewer systems and harm the environment. The clean-up of sewer backups and the additional maintenance required to reverse the damage caused by the improper disposal of these items leads to higher utility bills, costly home plumber visits, and expensive pipe replacement.

The Culprits

Fats, Oils Grease: This clogging culprit wants to run amok in your sink. This greasy guy may seem slick and harmless when sliding down your sink, but pouring fats, oils, grease, coffee grounds, and other undesirable materials down your drain ruins your home's plumbing and your water utility's sewer lines. From stinky sinks to sewer backups to water main breaks, the improper disposal of grease will cost you expensive repairs and higher utility bills. Make sure to can the grease, cool the grease, and throw the grease in the trash.

Wipes: Masquerading as convenient and safe, this clogging culprit is anything but. Once flushed down the toilet, disposable or "flushable" wipes are proven to cause disastrous problems for your home's plumbing and our community's sewer system. Wipes refuse to break down causing major sewer clogs and plumbing backups. Hoards of wipes can join together to inflict expensive damage to your home plumbing and community sewer systems. The only things that should be flushed down your toilet are Pee, Poop, and Toilet Paper.

Medication: Flushing medication leads to toxic conditions in our rivers, irreparably and adversely changing the delicate network of organisms that are necessary for a healthy environment. Though it may be convenient to flush unwanted meds down the toilet, this menace harms our environment and poisons waterways! Protect our waterways, don't let medication cause mayhem.

The Solution

Utilities in the metropolitan Washington are shining a light on the culprits responsible for causing trouble in our community’s water infrastructure and connecting you with the information and know-how to save you money and Protect Your Pipes. It's time to take action to stop these clogging criminals in their tracks! In order to preserve the integrity of our wastewater infrastructure and the health of our region's rivers and source water, always make sure to responsibly dispose of these destructive clogging culprits.

Fats, Oils Grease: Pour grease, coffee grounds, and other oily substances into a empty container like a peanut butter jar or soup can. Cool the can in the freezer between uses. Once full of grease, put a lid on the container and throw it in the trash can. Make sure to wipe excess grease with a paper towel before washing cookware.

Wipes: Keep a trash can in your bathroom. Throw used wipes, q-tips, tampons, pads, floss, cotton balls, and other materials in the trash can, not your toilet. Unless it's one of the three P's (Pee, Poop, toilet Paper) it belongs in the trash. When you flush trash, you flush cash!

Meds: If home disposal is necessary, the CDC recommends putting undesired medication in a plastic bag, adding detergent, coffee grounds, kitty litter or other unpalatable materials to the bag, and throwing the sealed bag in the trash can. Alternatively, visit a drug drop off location or prescription take-back event to safely dispose of your meds. Find drop-off locations on our medication page.

The Usual Suspects

Culprit #1

Fats, Oils, Grease (FOG)

Wanted for:
Conspiracy to Clog in the 1st Degree
Aggravated Sink Stink

Known Aliases/Accomplices:
all compostable food waste, cleaning agents, hazardous materials



Culprit #2

Wet wipes and related products

Wanted for:
Conspiracy to Clog in the 1st Degree
Voluntary Toilet Trouble

Known Aliases/Accomplices:
facial tissues and household cleaning wipes, cotton balls, Q-tips, dental floss, non-flushable paper towels, feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads)



Culprit #3

unwanted medications

Wanted for:
Contaminating the Potomac in the 1st Degree
Accidental Poisoning in the 3rd Degree

Known Aliases/Accomplices:
controlled and non-controlled medication, expired medication, unused medication, pills of all sorts



Who We Are

The Protect Your Pipes initiative is a part of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Community Engagement Campaign (CEC), a partnership between COG and regional water supply and wastewater members to engage the citizens of metropolitan Washington in wise water use and source water protection, via public messaging. CEC Members, including Alexandria Renew, Town of Leesburg, Town of Purcellville, Arlington County, DC Water, Fairfax County, Fairfax Water, Frederick County, Loudoun Water, Prince William County Service Authority, City of Rockville,the Upper Occoquan Service Authority, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), and Virginia American Water have partnered to promote to preserve the integrity of our source water and promote responsible waste disposal.

The Protect Your Pipes characters, logos, and brand are full and exclusive  property of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), its members, and the Protect Your Pipes Campaign.

Sabra Design

Sabra Design created the artwork and brand for the Protect Your Pipes Campaign. Sabra is an all inclusive brand and interactive design company serving the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area. With over 14 years of combined multimedia design experience, their portfolio ranges from work for Fortune 50 companies to non-profits, small businesses and artists. Visit their website