The city of Denton recently reported on implementation of a FOG abatement program, which was done in response to sanitary sewer overflows. Their program was implemented in 2012 when there were 45 sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). From 2015-2020, there were an average of 13.3 SSOs per year.
Denton has a population of about 140,000 people covering 98 square miles. There are more than 570 regulated FOG-producing facilities. The program was established via a city ordinance in 2012. While a success, there are still challenges. For one thing, turnover at Food Service Establishments (FSEs) necessitates the need for frequent communication and inspections. The facilities with high rates of FOG production are prioritized for inspections.
Denton specified the size of grease interceptors based on FOG production: “Heavy Food Preparation” and “Light Food Preparation” and seating capacity. Both terms are defined in the ordinance. However, there are some FSEs, such as coffee shops, that have significant drive-through business and generate significant FOG, which are not required to have large grease interceptors. The result is that the city must require increased maintenance on the grease interceptor, which corresponds to increased regulatory burden for the city.
Some keys to success are inclusion of the City Administration, which is the vital player to implementation of the laws. The program succeeds by influencing the actions of the FSE. They found that partnering with the FSE and community and educating them on the need for FOG reduction was essential.
Data is also important. It’s not necessarily a good metric to look at the number of failed inspections. Failed inspections can lead to better maintenance and reduced FOG entering the wastewater conveyance system. Denton was able to document savings in the reduced lift station pump replacement, and reduced gravity main and wet well cleanings. They also gained the benefit of increased public exposure to the treatment works.
For other municipalities instituting a FOG Abatement program, Denton recommends:
FOG abatement programs are a great tool to reduce the number of SSOs
Explaining long-term benefits of a FOG abatement program to FSEs
results in better compliance and rapport
Public buy-in and trust is fundamental to the success