Ball Ground city officials are asking residents not to put things into the sewers that don’t belong there, saying it can cost taxpayers big money.

“We had an incident (Jan. 4) in one of our new lift stations (the Georgia Highway 372 South subdivision station) where large quantities of grease formed around a substantial quantity of shop towels and got sucked into one of our pumps, shorting out and destroying the pump,” City Manager Eric Wilmarth said. “Meanwhile, the pump right next to it caught up a pair of underwear and jammed up the impeller. By the end of the day Monday, the shop towels and underwear combined to create a little over $10,000 in damage to the station. This includes parts, a pump, contract labor, and hiring a ... hauler to pump down the station while pumps were being taken care of.”

Wilmarth said other items that have appeared in the city’s sewer system over the past few months have included Coca-Cola bottles, golf balls, tennis balls, forks, knives and disposable razor blades. During the past three months, dealing with shop towels getting into the sewer lift stations has cost the city $30,000, while grease blockages in sewer mains have added an additional $12,000 in cost. Over the course of the past year, Ball Ground has spent upward of $100,000 in repairs to the system. Wilmarth also said items have turned up at sewer pumps throughout the city, while hotspots for grease getting into the system include around Roberts Lake Road, Gilmer Ferry Road, Cherokee Village Drive and Northridge Road.

“We really need the help of our sewer customers in the city in ensuring that we only put down the drain things that are made to go down the drain,” he said. “Grease has no place in a sewer system, likewise with shop towels, clothing and Coke bottles.”

In the past, city officials have been present at downtown events handing out information and spreading the word to help keep the sewer system clean. However, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic canceling many of these events, the city has shifted to spreading the word regarding this issue primarily via social media.

With Ball Ground’s annual budget discussions coming up in the next few months, Wilmarth said the city could end up considering raising its sewage rates to cover daily operations, treatment and all the needed repairs caused by the damage of inappropriate items getting into the sewer if these objects continue to show up at the level they are currently seen.

“We appreciate your help,” Wilmarth said.

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