The leading cause of sewer blockages across the U.S. is the accumulation of fats, oils and grease (FOG) in sanitary sewers. FOG blockages cause sanitary sewer overflows into local waterways and basements. Unfortunately, these maintenance costs are then passed along to consumers. However, many consumers do not realize the contribution that they actually make in creating these situations. Any amount of fats, oils and grease deposited down the drain can seriously degrade the collection system’s ability to function properly because these wastes are extremely hard to process and treat. In addition to being hard to treat, FOG accumulation poses a major community health hazard.
Pipe surfaces, lift stations and poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other establishments are the areas that are most impacted by FOG problems. Back ups and spills caused by fats, oils and grease tend to be higher volume spills. This is a major reason why the FOG issues in the community should be controlled.
Some solutions to solving the FOG issue include educating the public on the negative effects of disposing of grease in drains, being more proactive as a municipality in eliminating FOG issues, establishing a FOG plan through a Sewer Use Ordinance (and then monitoring and enforcing the FOG plan) and not leaving the responsibility of the problem in the hands of the consumers. A good FOG plan educates establishments on how to properly and effectively operate grease traps and interceptors. In addition, the municipality should regularly check the manifests of the establishments to ensure that the proper practices have been implemented to have the expected amounts of grease removed in a timely manner.
Several advantages can result from the proper management of FOG: sewer lines running at full capacity due to fewer blockages, less time needed to clean up sewer lines and leaks, the ability to conduct better inspections of the pipe walls and less money spent on rehabilitation and new sewer systems. All of these results are possible if we implement the practice of lifting the FOG.