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Things that Don't Belong in Sewers: Doorknobs, Forks, Fence Posts

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Ever since the high desert city of Lancaster took sewer maintenance duties from LA County, they've been facing a problem: objects are illegally being dumped into sewers causing sewage to backup and overflow onto the streets.

"Generally what happens is that people open a manhole, or find that it's already opened for some reason, and put stuff in it," explained Steve Dassler, the city's Utlity Services Manager, over the phone. Fence posts, bricks, utensils, rocks, doorknobs and more have all been found down there. Also, dumping grease--say from a deep fried turkey frier (it's happened)--causes great harm after it solidifies in the sewage system.

Even something as simple as a plastic glove or rag can have a snowball effect when it blocks another piece of debris and so on. Eventually the flow of sewage gets plugged and it spills onto the streets, sometimes unreported for weeks and leaving a mile long trail in the gutters, causing unhealthy conditions, hefty fines from the state and unnecessary budget spent on resources and overtime for city crews.