The Western States Alliance held our annual FOG Forum in a virtual format for the first time in our Forum's history. This new virtual format allowed us to highlight national programs, projects, and speakers from across the country.
Topics covered during the Forum included a USDA Overview, Illegal Dumping, FOG Instrumentation, Prison Enforcement, The Evolution of FOG Programs, and Engaging Tenants. Participants attended from all over the country, which helped provide innovative FOG Abatement information. If you want to view presentations from our FOG Forum, please use the link below.
The annual PNPW Workshop brings pretreatment professionals from across the region to receive technical training on a variety of topics, updates from EPA and state programs, up-to-date policy news, and information on newest technologies on the market.
Fatbergs: The Growing Menace to Our Municipal Wastewater Conveyance Systems
So what exactly is a fatberg?
The first use of the word “fatberg” was in London in 2013. A 15-ton calcified blockage, roughly the size of a double-decker bus, was discovered in a sewer line in the Kensington neighborhood. People complained about slow flushing toilets and the massive blockage was given the moniker fatberg as a descriptor.
Fatbergs consist of clumps of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) joined by the addition of “disposable” wipes. They can include facial tissue, paper towels, tampons, sanitary towels, condoms, and other wastes flushed into the sanitary sewer system. As this collection of matter grows, it goes through the chemical reaction process of saponification. Saponification breaks down FOG into fatty acid salts (soap) and glycerol. Further reaction results in calcification, transforming the blockage into something more akin to concrete than lard.
Should communities be concerned about fatbergs? If so, Why?
According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, U.S. municipalities, both large and small, shell out at least $1 billion annually on maintenance to remove clogs that will eventually become fatbergs. The problem has grown so large that several states are now following the example of Washington State in passing legislation mandating manufacturers of sanitary wipes to label their products with “do not flush” disclaimers. South Carolina and California are introducing similar bills to avert sewer clogging by mandating similar labeling disclaimers on similar products.
To learn more about fatbergs in the U.S., the role of Grease and cooking oil in their formation, and steps communities are taking to prevent fatbergs, check out more articles on our blog.
Implementing a FOG Abatement program takes time and planning. It will definitely save your municipality money, reduce damage to your infrastructure, and potentially prevent sanitary sewer overflows, so it’s worth the effort.
This website is a “one stop shop” of resources you need to help you plan and implement your FOG Abatement Program. The website includes a Primer on developing a program as well as several individual, specific resources that cover discrete elements needed. For example:
Establishing regulatory authority – there are several examples of how a municipality can use existing ordinances or develop their own. One document that is helpful is an Example Ordinance put together by the EPA Region 8’s Al Garcia for municipalities that don’t currently have a pretreatment program. It uses the authority of the municipality’s NPDES permit to regulate FOG.
Developing the business case – is important as you work with municipality leaders and FSEs so everyone has an understanding of the financial benefits to implementing a FOG Abatement Program. Establishing the Business Case Worksheet can help organize the costs and benefits.