The Ojai Valley Sanitary District FOG program – aimed at stopping discharges of commercial fats, oils and grease (FOG) into the sewer system– is making progress, reports Ron Sheets, OVSD Operations Superintendent.
The stakes are high, because congealed grease can clog sewer pipes, causing sewage spills into the environment and increasing costs to the ratepayers.
Between last December and March, an inspector visited all 60 restaurants and food service companies — ranging from fast food outlets to gourmet eateries — that discharge wastewater into the OVSD sewer system.
"The restaurants are doing a better job of keeping their laterals clean, and we expect that will translate into improved conditions in our sewer system," said Sheets.
The OVSD contracts with the Ventura Regional Sanitation District to provide inspections. On each visit to restaurants, the inspector checks hauling records of the establishments that use a commercial hauler to take away the grease. If the restaurant has a grease trap, the inspector checks to make sure it is being used within proper operating standards. The inspector also educates restaurant management and personnel in best manage ment practices in grease removal and wiping down all pots and pans thoroughly with paper towels before washing them.
When warranted, the inspector will make follow-up visits to restaurants to ensure compliance.
With regular inspections continuing, Sheets expects that restaurants' grease-handling practices will continue to improve. "We're getting increased awareness and cooperation from the restaurants," he said. "But prevention is an ongoing job."