Massive blob of fat in Lake Stevens sewer causes pricey fix

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — Lake Stevens is dealing with an expensive, underground problem – a huge plug of fat, oil and grease blocking sewage pipes.

There was so much grease in a huge section of pipe on 91st Place Northeast that it ruptured.

Though Tonya Cristoffersen with the Lake Stevens Sewer District said the section of pipe was cleaned out 3 or 4 months ago, a massive solid blob of grease was discovered Wednesday in the same section.

“It was actually destroying all of the concrete pipe, so now we're looking at a 300-foot replacement of pipe,” said Cristoffersen.

The repair will cost the city about $500,000.

Cristoffersen said the pipes in that part of town always have a buildup of fat because of the restaurants that line the road there.

Every time you fry something, all the nachos, the french fries, everything like that -- it just builds up really fast,” said Cristoffersen.

But it’s never been bad enough to rupture a pipe.

The sewer district is now trying to figure out where all the extra fat is coming from. Crews said the massive blobs can do a lot of damage, which turned out to be much more extensive on 91st Place than first thought.

Officials say the costly and expensive pipe replacement could have been prevented if people drained fats the right way. Crews just hope it doesn’t get worse.

“With the volume of grease that we're dealing with right now, if it hits our treatment plant and those membranes? We're looking at $3.5 to $4 million,” said Cristoffersen.

Meanwhile, officials are going to area restaurants to make sure they're complying with the rules.

The grease buildup won’t affect sewer rates. The cost of the new pipe will come out of a maintenance fee that customers already pay.