Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)
Sanitary sewer lines are a lot like our own arteries. Fats, Oils, and Grease (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 Rules and Regulations No. 15 of the Rules and Regulations of El Paso Water Utilities-Public Service Board (PSB), which was adopted by the Public Service Board (PSB) in 2005. Rule No. 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 by the FSE in a conspicuous location.
El Paso Water Utilities' staff engages in outreach to register Food Service Establishments and waste transporters. 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. Outreach is ongoing.
The requirements established in Rule No. 15 apply to all FSE 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 FSE may also be exempt. Any FSE may complete a Request for Exemption and submit it to the PSB for consideration for approval.
Rule No. 15 establishes a strict manifest system. Only transporters registered with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are authorized to collect and dispose of grease trap/interceptor waste in the City of El Paso. Manifests are available only at 6400 Boeing Drive, El Paso, TX 79925.
Self-cleaning of small (50 gallons or smaller) under sink grease traps may be permissible. An application to self-clean must be completed and approval must be obtained from the PSB.
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