Take Care of What Goes Down the Drain


I am seeking the community’s help with a growing concern in the operation of our wastewater treatment system. Over the past year, the improper disposal of fats, oils, and grease (or “FOG”) has increased, leading to significant challenges and disruptions in our wastewater treatment system and processes.

It is essential for residents and businesses alike to understand the impact FOG can have on our sewer infrastructure and the environment.  While it may seem convenient to pour FOG down the drain (or just unwittingly), it can lead to severe consequences downstream.

When FOG enters the sewer system, it cools and solidifies, adhering to the inner walls of pipes thereby reducing capacity and potentially causing blockages. In addition to the pipes, FOG accumulates at the wastewater treatment plant in the wet well at the end of the sewer collection system.  FOG does not break down or respond to the biological wastewater treatment process at our facility.  As a result, the Town pays approximately $10,000+/- per tank annually to remove and dispose of the accumulated FOG.  

However, the need for removal and disposal has increased to every six months or so at the current loading rate. In addition to this hard cost, the reduced capacity in the plant tankage requires us to run other processes such as sludge thickening more frequently, which has an associated energy cost as well as increased frequency of odors emanating from the plant.

There are other operational costs and inefficiencies as well, but I will leave it here for now. This will eventually result in costly maintenance, repairs, and potentially even sewer overflows that can contaminate water bodies, harm aquatic life, and pose health risks to our community.

Here are a few simple steps we can all take to prevent FOG from entering our sewer system:

1. Collect and store FOG: After cooking, allow FOG to cool and collect it in a container, such as an old jar or can. Once solidified, dispose of it in the trash.

2. Scrape plates and utensils: Before washing dishes, scrape excess FOG into the trash or compost bin. Wipe greasy cookware with a paper towel to remove residual FOG.

3. Install grease traps: For businesses, installing and maintaining properly sized grease traps can prevent FOG from reaching the sewer lines and causing blockages.

4. Spread the word: Educate friends, family, and neighbors about the importance of FOG disposal. Encourage them to adopt responsible practices to keep our sewer system functioning smoothly.

By collectively addressing the issue of FOG in our sewer system, we can reduce maintenance costs, protect our environment, and ensure the efficient operation of the treatment process. Let's work together to safeguard the health and well-being of our community.

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