FOG Discharge into Water Systems

An overview of what FOG is and how it is causing sewer problems.
- , April 26th, 2013

Published April 26th, 2013

FOG Discharge into Water Systems

Fire engines line the street. They are not there to put out a fire. They are using pumps inside homes and businesses to drain out the sewer water that had backed up inside the buildings. The cause of the massive sewage backup that will cost the residents and business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages is not from flooding after a huge rainstorm or from overflowing rivers. It is due to FOG clogging up sewer lines.

What Is FOG?

FOG stands for fats, oils and greases. These fats, oils and greases are found in food and cooking products used by residents, schools, food packagers, hospitals, churches and the restaurant industry. Food ingredients that commonly contain FOG are meats, butter, shortening, cooking oil, dairy products, sauces, baked goods and many other items. FOG can either be in solid or liquid form, as it is created when preparing and cooking food.

How Is FOG Causing Sewer Problems?

Some food is cooked in fats, oils and greases while certain other foods produce FOG during the cooking process. After the food is served, there is no reason to hold onto this FOG, as it is commonly poured into sinks or toilet drains. The FOG travels through the sewer lines toward wastewater treatment facilities.

Unfortunately, FOG doesn't travel well through pipes as it will commonly cause clogs and blockages. When this happens, sewer lines back up before the location of the plug, sending sewage water back into homes, restaurants, offices and other buildings. It can also back up through manholes and discharge into the streets as it could affect fresh water supplies. In addition, FOG can clog pump stations and wastewater treatment facilities.

What Happens When An Establishment Improperly Disposes Of FOG?

Improperly disposing of FOG directly into drains that causes a blockage in the sanitary sewer lines is a direct federal violation of the Clean Water Act. If it is discovered that an establishment is directly responsible in creating the blockage, they will need to pay for the blockage to be removed and for the proper maintenance of the public sewer line. If it cannot be determined that one particular establishment caused the blockage, then the EPA will fine the municipality for violating the Clean Water Act. This will result in the taxpayers paying the fine.

What Can You Do To Prevent FOG From Clogging Sewer Systems?

Both residents and businesses that produce FOG must take the proper steps in preventing fats, oils and greases from blocking sewer systems. There are several ways this can be accomplished depending on the amount of FOG you create while preparing and cooking food.

Businesses Disposing Of FOG

Any establishment that provides food and drink services is required by law to have a grease removal device for the pretreatment of FOG. There are two types of devices a business can have:

  • Indoor grease trap: An indoor grease trap is a small reservoir placed into the wastewater pipe close to where the grease is produced. The trap contains a baffle the prevents the grease from entering the pipe as the grease congeals and lifts to the surface for proper disposal. Grease traps are commonly used in places that only produces a minimum amount of food and drink (fast-food and take-out restaurants making less than 400 meals a day).
  • Outdoor grease interceptor: An outdoor grease interceptor is a vault that can hold between 500 and 750 gallons of discharged FOG. Used by large establishments and restaurants providing 500+ meals a day, the interceptor has at least two compartments and a 90 degree fitting to trap grease as the grease congeals and cools for disposal.

Residents Disposing Of FOG

Residents should never just pour oils, fats and grease down their kitchen drains or in the toilet. For solid greases and fats, simply scrape them into the garbage can. You can also place food scraps into a mulch pile as this will help further preserve the environment.

For liquid oils and grease, pour the hot liquids into a metal can and allow it to cool. Then throw the can into the trash. For large amounts of grease and oils, you can allow it to cool and place it into plastic containers, such as milk jugs. You can then take the containers to your local Household Hazardous Waste facility.

Tags: grease interceptors | wastewater solutions | | | |

About the Author

This article on how to prevent FOG and other harmful substances from entering the water system and the environment is provided by Green Turtle Technologies, a leading provider of quality grease traps and oil interceptors.

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