Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOG)
Sanitary sewer lines are a lot like our own arteries. Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOG) from cooking oil, salad dressing, and other foods can accumulate in them over time and restrict their capacity. In a sewer line this can lead to an overflow. In 2004, more than 80 percent of sanitary sewer blockages were attributed to grease or a combination of grease and other materials. The best way to resolve this problem is to keep FOG from entering the system.
El Paso Water Utilities has developed a program to help prevent blockages and ensure the proper disposal of FOG. The program regulates the discharge, transportation, and disposal of FOG. Specifically, any Food Service Establishment (FSE) that generates FOG is affected.
The requirements of the program are established through Rule 15 of the Rules and Regulations, which was adopted by the Public Service Board (PSB) in 2005. Rule 15 requires any FSE that discharges or plans to discharge into El Paso's sanitary sewer system to register with the PSB. A certificate of registration will be issued to every registered FSE. Once issued, the certificate must be displayed in the FSE in a conspicuous location.
The El Paso Water Utilities staff engages in outreach to register Food Service Establishments and waste haulers. During the first two years of the FOG Program, 1,466 FSEs were registered, line stoppages were reduced by 12.5 percent, and sanitary sewer overflows were reduced by 75 percent. The outreach is ongoing.
The requirements established in Rule 15 apply to all FSEs except:
- Those that operate for not more than ten (10) days in connection with an annual event such as a fair, carnival, circus, public exhibition, or other public gathering serving only food that does not require additional processing or cooking;
- Those that sell or serve pre-packaged or pre-cooked food that requires only warming;
- Those that serve only snow cones, drinks or ice cream products;
- Bars and clubs serving drinks only and where food is not prepared;
- Produce markets that do not use food grinders;
- Grocery or convenience stores without food preparation, meat cutting or packaging, delicatessens, or bakeries.
Other FSEs may also be exempt. Any FSE may complete a Request for Exemption and submit it to the PSB for consideration for approval.
Rule 15 establishes a strict manifest system. Only waste haulers registered with the appropriate state agency (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or governing state agency) are authorized to collect and dispose of grease trap/interceptor waste in the City of El Paso. Manifests will only be available at 1154 Hawkins Blvd., El Paso, TX 79925.
Self-cleaning of small (50 gallons or smaller) under sink grease traps may be permissible. Approval to Self-Clean must be obtained from the PSB annually.
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