The Science of Fats, Oils and Grease
- State of Texas regulations and recommendations on FOG’s
- Columbus, Ohio adopt FOG Ordinace
- Santa Ana has strong FOG ordinance
- EPA waste management documents a good source of information
- City says restaurants are clogging sewers
- FOG Effects Us in Ways We Don’t Think
- Grease clogging sewers a nationwide problem
- The FOG Problem
The State of Texas posts its regulations and recommendations for ‘Keeping Fats, Oils and
Grease out of the Sewers” at:
Fighting Fats, Oils and Grease requires strong ordinance and coupled with
sufficient enforcement. The City of Santa Ana, California posts its Fog Control Ordinance at:
As part of their mandate to protect the nation’s ground water, the EPA administers the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This is a good reference for any community that maintains both sanitary and storm sewers. Here are a couple of good documents I discovered:
Sewer Cleaning and Inspection fact sheet. This document describes the various methods for cleaning and inspection of muni sewer pipes, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Combined Sewer overflow operations and maintenance fact sheet. Interesting to read that it costs on average $1,700 per mile to clean a muni sewer pipe, and that is in 1998 dollars!
The City of Midland hopes to tighten control of grease dumped into its sanitary sewer system because the oily stuff has been clogging pipes, causing flow issues and leading to eventual backups.
The Midland City Council will vote August 11 on a proposal to limit grease concentrations to 100 milligrams per liter of waste-water. It got it;s first look at the proposal Monday night from Utilities Director Noel Bush.
“Grease discharged into sanitary sewers cools and congeals on the interior of the sanitary sewer pipes and in pumping station wet wells,” Bush said. This problem is caused by waste from restaurants and other grease producing establishments, but primarily restaurants”
Setting a limit would give the city an enforcement tool if a facility discharging the material is thought to have an inadequate grease removal system or is not maintaining its system.
“Benefits of a reduction in grease discharge would be reducing the number of blockages caused by grease in the sanitary sewer collection system and a reduction of the degreasing costs”, Bush said.
Removal systems can separate the grease and restaurants can have it hauled away to a processing facility. Otherwise it can clog pipes and the city has to removed the congealed material and haul it to a landfill.
While the ordinance would impact mostly restaurants, some homeowners also face clogging issues because of grease.
“There are some residents that use an enormous amount of oil in the preparation of their meals”, Bush said, and the city has worked with those homeowners on the proper storage and disposal of the grease.
“In general, the level of grease a household disposes of is adequately dissolved by soaps and other materials”, Bush said.
SOURCE: MIDLAND Daily News, by Tony Lascari
Has FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) come between you and your family vacation?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the year 2006, there were over 20,000 beach and public water closures in the U.S. due to unsafe water. Most of these closures were due to unsafe levels of e.coli bacteria resulting from sanitary sewer overflows, (SSOs). Many of these SSOs were the result of natural causes such as flooding, but a large majority of these SSOs were from manmade causes.
The number one manmade cause of Sanitary Sewer Overflows is sewer blockage and malfunction resulting from retention of FOG (fats, oils and grease) in the sewer lines. According to the EPA, 85% of the SSOs in the State of California were connected to FOG clogs in the sewer lines. It’s something to think about the next time you pack up your beach blankets or fishing gear and hitch up your boat. Will the beach be open or closed? Will the water we want to swim, fish or boat in be safe today? Or has FOG (fats, oils and grease) come in-between us and our family fun?
Source: EPA Statistics 2006
Grease is clogging sewers nationwide, creating a costly mess to clean up and a dilemma for officials and regulators. Recently, the WALL STREET JOURNAL reported that 75% of the sewer systems in the United States work at only half capacity because of grease clogs. The cost of keeping sewers open, a cost borne by taxpayers at a local level, is a $25 billion per year problem! The increase in grease in sewer lines is a direct result in the phenomenal growth in dual income households who choose to eat out rather than cook at home.
Grease clogs in a sewer line decrease the flow through the lines and compromise system performance. According to Wayne Sobieralski of the California State Water Resources Control Board, “The number one cause of sewer overflows in Southern California is grease blockages”.
In Boston, a 300ft. grease ball with a 36-inch diameter clogged the sewer line under the famous Fanuil Hall area. Across the country and around the world, cities and towns are struggling to manage the growing grease problem.
CURRENT REGULATIONS ARE DIFFICULT TO ENFORCE
No matter if you live in a rural area that relies on septic systems or in a city with sewers, regulators are responsible for overseeing local establishments that are major contributors to the grease problem. The primary challenge for these regulators is to develop programs and solutions that are effective. This means that they will ensure and document compliance with codes. Solutions looked at by municipalities include manatory pumping cycles, monitoring and fines for offenders. Many areas have also reduced the amount of time between mandatory pumping cycles. Voluntary inspections every 30 days are required in some communities, but they are hard to inforce and infrequently done. Many municipalities are rewriting their codes to require the use of new technology as it becomes available.
One thing for certain, given the magnitude and cost of the problem, cities are cracking down. Boston’s current grease trap regulations call for mandatory pump outs every 90 days. New regulations in Atlanta impose fines up to $1,000.00 per day and a mandatory 60 days imprisonment for violation of the local code.
In California (anticipating more stringent EPA regulations), state, regional, and local teams are collaborating to implement a comprehensive program to optimize capacity, management, operations and maintenance(CMOM) of all collection systems.
In St. Petersburg, Fl., a new ordinance is being written that provides an incentive for proactive fats, oil, and grease (FOG) management. Restaurants will be required to pump their tanks every 30 days if they have a garbage disposal and every 60 days if they do not have a garbage disposal attatched to their tanks.
Some service providers do not properly pump tanks and traps when called for service. In some cases, grease and solids actually have been introduced into the tanks by the pumper. As the cost to dispose of the FOG continues to rise due to the elimination of land applications processes and the refusal of more and more treatment plants to process brown grease, the price to dispose of the grease is driven up and up. Pumpers are being forced to travel greater distances to dispose of the fats, oils and grease, as the number of facilities that will process the grease dwindles. PUMPERS LOOKING TO CUT COSTS AND DISPOSE OF LESS MAY SKIM THE TOP GREASE AND LEAVE THE BOTTOM SOLIDS.
Although pumpers may be responsible for some of the grease problems, they are not responsible for restaurants and facilities that are out of compliance because they just do not service their tanks and traps or because they do not comply with best waste disposal practices. These food service facilities are responsible for staying within area code guidelines and could soon be paying fines for violations.
Source: Water Engeneering & Management
Restaurants represent high inputs of FOGs to municipal waste water systems or septic fields. They are legally required to remove or eliminate FOGs from their waste water. This is normally accomplished with in-ground grease traps; these traps should be emptied on a regular basis to be effective.
Historically, trapped and recovered FOGs have been hauled to agricultural fields for disposal. Recent regulations, however, have banned land disposal of FOGs in most areas, leaving expensive (and very reluctant) landfills as the only disposal option in many communities. As a result, hauling options are decreasing and disposal costs are rising.
Consequently, many restaurants are now disabling grease traps, causing considerable FOG problems and cost increases for municipal wastewater treatment systems and spurring regulators to increase enforcement of FOG management regulations. This vicious circle creates increasing costs and growing liability problems for restaurants. Grease clogs in a sewer line decrease the flow through the lines and compromise system performance.
- According to Wayne Sobieralski of the California State Water Resources Control Board, “The number one cause of sewer overflows in Southern California is grease blockages.” Due to this problem (and anticipating more stringent EPA regulations), state regional and local teams are collaborating to implement a comprehensive program to optimize capacity, management, operations and maintenance (CMOM) of all collection systems.
- In St. Petersburg, Fla., a new ordinance is being written that provides an incentive for proactive oil and grease management. Restaurants will be required to pump their tanks every thirty days. In addition, the city may advocate continuous monitoring at each location to provide immediate and historical data on tank and trap performance.
- In Boston, a 300-foot long grease ball with a 36-inch diameter clogged the sewer line under the famous Faneuil Hall area.
Across the country and around the world, cities and towns are struggling to manage the growing grease problem.