The Problem with Fats, Oils, & Grease (FOG)
Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) is to sewer pipes as cholesterol is to arteries-both cause residue to build up, restricting and blocking the flow. FOG includes animal and vegetable fats, oils, and greases commonly used and generated from cooking, food and drink preparation, and meat preparation. It ends up on cookware, dishware, kitchen equipment, and floors. When these items are cleaned, the FOG is washed off into the plumbing system, where it begins to cool and separate from the dishwater.
Congealed FOG coats the surface of manholes, pipes, and pumping stations. Blockages then cause sewage spills, manhole overflows, and sewage backups in homes, businesses, and local waterways, potentially causing a loss of business and severe public health impacts.
All of this may result in expensive cleanup costs as well as fines from regulatory agencies. In fact, sewer blockages and backups can cause restaurants and other food and drink service establishments to be closed down and/or be held financially responsible for resulting damages.
What Golden Valley Is Doing About FOG
FOG is such a serious concern that many cities, including Golden Valley, have ordinances and regulations to control the release of FOG into the sewer system. Golden Valley's FOG ordinance requires that all food and drink service establishments install grease removal devices, such as grease interceptors or grease traps, and undergo regular inspections. The City is also reaching out to establishments and advising them on how to properly manage FOG.
A grease interceptor is a large tank located below ground outside of a food service establishment building. It is connected to the wastewater piping and has at least two compartments to trap floating grease and food waste particles.
A grease trap is a small reservoir built into the wastewater piping a short distance from the grease-producing area. Grease traps are appropriate for small, low-volume establishments with limited kitchen equipment and dish washing.
Interceptors and traps require regular cleaning and maintenance, and FOG must be disposed of properly. The City will supply FOG maintenance logs and do routine inspections to check on compliance and answer questions.
Complying with the City's FOG Ordinance
The City of Golden Valley provides Step-by-Step Guidelines (PDF) for getting in compliance and significantly reducing or eliminating FOG from entering your plumbing.
Establishments that fail to comply with Golden Valley's grease waste management policies and discharge FOG to the City sewer may be required to install additional grease-removal equipment, be fined, or even have their utility services terminated.
Food Service Establishments
- Train employees how to manage FOG.
- Post signs to remind staff about proper FOG management procedures.
- Dry wipe dishes before washing to remove grease and dispose of the grease in the garbage. Clean grease spills with absorbent material and then dispose of the material in the garbage.
- Do not discharge FOG down drains, sinks, floor drains, toilets, or storm drains, and never dispose of sewage or kitchen waste into a storm drain.
- Empty grease containers before they are completely full to prevent overflows. Collect and empty grill scrapings and fryer vat grease into a leak-proof grease recycling container that can be tightly sealed, and recycle waste cooking oil.
- Dispose of food waste by recycling and/or solid waste removal to divert it from grease traps and interceptors.
- Avoid or limit the use of garbage disposals. The food particles can fill up a grease trap.
- Use detergents instead of soap; soap contains oil. Use a three-sink compartment dishwashing system, including sinks for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing.
- Cover outdoor grease and oil storage containers, and use a licensed hauler to dispose of spent grease.
- Routinely clean kitchen exhaust system filters.
- Regularly check grease control device and ensure they're accessible for maintenance and inspection. Clean interceptors with a capacity of 100 gallons or less weekly or more frequently if needed. Never put FOG removed from the grease control device into the sewer system.
- If there is little or no FOG in the grease control device, verify that it is installed correctly.