HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — High Point leaders are issuing a warning to the public after more than 17,000 gallons of wastewater spilled out of the city’s sewer system.

12,600 gallons spilled near Dorothy Street and flowed into a stream leading to Kennedy Mill Creek.

Another spill happened on Hickswood Road where 5,000 gallons spilled over a manhole, with 2,500 gallons reaching a stream that leads to Deep River.

Both spills were caused by drain clogs from grease and wipes. When grease goes down the drain and cools off, it solidifies. It meets up with wipes backing up wastewater pipes.

Leaders say people will start to feel these spills in their wallets.

“The more we have to go out and maintain these systems and cleanups from grease and wipes that have been put in the system, that’s going to increase the overall cost and may be passed on to the user,” Public Works Director Robby Stone said.

He couldn’t share a specific number and told FOX 8 it depends on how big the spill is.

The number of grease and wipe blockages skyrocketed during the pandemic. Now, the City of High Point sees anywhere from 20 to 30 spills a year.

“A lot of folks think…’I have a garbage disposal.’ They think it will grind things up and help push through or whatever, but that doesn’t always help,” Stone said.

Public works employees clean up the area as much as possible, sanitizing it and removing debris.

While neither of the most recent spills affected the drinking water, Stone worries about the environmental impact every time a spill happens.

“More than likely people are drinking water from their tap or using it to wash their clothes. Things like that so that come into our drinking water supply. It’s being tested. It’s being cleansed, but that’s going to also increase cost,” Stone said.

Leaders say the best way to avoid a major sewage spill is to throw any and all wipes away and put grease in a separate container, wait for it to harden and then throw it away.