Raleigh council repeals disposal ban

Council members also decide not to amend the code that covers sewer rules

Staff WriterApril 16, 2008 

— Ladies and gentlemen, start your garbage disposals.

The City Council voted Tuesday to repeal a roundly criticized, month-old ordinance that banned the installation of new garbage disposals and the replacement of broken ones.

The ban was removed much the same way it was adopted -- with little discussion and no opposition.

In a sign of how politically toxic the ban had become, the council decided not to amend the part of the municipal code that stipulates what items may not be placed into the Raleigh sewer system.

The proposed amendments were meant to clarify, not change, the city's rules, but at least one council member feared they would be misinterpreted as infringing on the rights of food-grinder owners.

"I want to make sure we're not perpetuating the ban," council member James West said.

The council did agree to ramp up a city education program designed to educate residents on what they are not supposed to pour down the drain. Since 2000, the star of that campaign has been Neusie, a long-lash fish created by the city to be its anti-grease mascot, her name a play on the Neuse River.

The disposal ban was supported by Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen and Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp, who argued it would help reduce the number of costly sewer overflows. The Raleigh sewer system recorded 48 sewer overflows in 2007, compared with 70 overflows in 1999.

During a City Council subcommittee meeting last week, Crisp said his department did not have any scientific data linking sewer overflows to the use of garbage disposals.

"Our research has been the true-life experience of operating the system," Crisp said.

Most council members cited the lack of scientific evidence in explaining why they no longer supported the ban.

david.bracken@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4548

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