If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you may have seen a recent article with a familiar word if you read our monthly blog: fatberg. In this story, covered by various news sources (our favorite was Divers swim through 90 feet of raw sewage to unclog giant, hairy ‘fatberg’ from the NY Post), covers a North Carolina fatberg – a collection of various materials held together by congealed grease and less savory filth – that had plugged the Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Center. This article, while disgusting and humorous by itself, highlights the issues US wastewater systems face, especially when it comes to what individuals and businesses flush down the drains.
Why Are We Seeing Fatbergs in the United States?
You might remember a while back when talking about fatbergs, we also framed why this problem was often only a problem outside of the US, where looser regulations and unready wastewater infrastructure often was the blame. The new story above isn’t the only one, from fatberg-caused sewer overflows in Baltimore, to local agencies spending millions of dollars to keep the same from happening. Let’s look at some common trends.
Residential Flushing of Certain Products
Fatbergs and pearls have something in common: they both require foreign matter to form the core of the mass. Instead of grains of sand, fatbergs form from matter flushed down the drains that aren’t sewer friendly. Wet-wipes, even those which are “flushable” create a surface of which grease can cling to (instead of just coating the pipes, a dangerous long-term problem).
Dumping Grease Down Business and Home’s Drains
We’ve documented the importance of not dumping grease, and why it’s the law for US businesses to have grease traps installed. Many of our news stories cover the damage restaurants can do to sewer systems. However, this can also be a residential problem: just look at this Thanksgiving plea for people to stop dumping turkey grease down the drains.
A Strained Wastewater Infrastructure
Just as we talked about in our blog, Restaurant-City Relations: The Need for the Right Grease Trap, grease dumped down the drain in large quantities can lead to a strained infrastructure, from damaging the processing power of wastewater treatment plants to constricting pipes and causing overflows. Taking a look at the NYC’s yearly State of the Sewers reports or the video of the Fort Wayne, Indiana sewers shows the damage grease can do, fatbergs or no. As a reference for cost, NYC spent $18 million fighting fatbergs over a 5-year period and cleaning out what you saw in that video required the small town to spend $500,000 to clean up after it.
When it comes to dealing with meeting and exceeding the grease trap requirements for your New England restaurant or other business, we can help. Food Grease Trappers are experts in the field of grease trap service and maintenance and waste vegetable oil (WVO) collections for the foodservice industry, and we have been doing so for over 20 years. Do your part to avoid fatbergs, sewer overflows, and damaging city infrastructure by working with the best.