|
|
|
McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • City tries to manage grease

  • The City of McPherson is working to finish up a comprehensive grease management program.
    The program, which has been in development over the last several years, is designed to make caring for the city’s sanitary sewer system more efficient and less costly.
    • email print
  • The City of McPherson is working to finish up a comprehensive grease management program.
    The program, which has been in development over the last several years, is designed to make caring for the city’s sanitary sewer system more efficient and less costly.
    The program would require via ordinance that new food service businesses in the city install grease interceptors.
    A grease interceptor is a metal basin that is installed near a food service business in order to collect, contain or remove food waste or grease from wastewater the business produces.
    Installed in the ground, a grease interceptor traps grease, which floats at the top of the water, in a receptacle while allowing the liquid underneath to flow to the wastewater collection system.
    Once every three months or as needed, a truck pumps out the grease collected in the interceptor.
    If an interceptor isn’t properly kept clean, it can result in a number of issues, including corrosion from bacterial growth, hydrogen sulfide odors, and even fluid backups within homes and businesses.
    City Engineering Aide Justin Walker said grease control is an expensive and involved process as it’s handled now.
    “Every time the sewer truck operators are out,” Walker said, “80 percent of the time they’re pulling grease out of clogs. Grease is one of the biggest problems causing sewer blockages in McPherson.”
    The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 47 percent of all sewer blockages are caused by grease.
    When in a sewer system, grease sticks to the surfaces of the pipes and tunnels and builds up over time.
    This buildup is not limited to the bottom or lower portions of a pipe or tunnel. As water levels rise due to rain or other environmental factors, the grease, which floats at the top of the water, will stick on the higher surfaces, and even the ceiling.
    Walker said as it stands now, cleaning lines with cameras installed are run daily to check the condition of and to clean the sewer lines.
    The cleaning lines have an end which looks like an inverted sprinkler head that shoots high pressure streams of water back along its path.
    With this stream, the lines are able to push the grease and other clogging elements back along its path as it is retracted.
    Once the line is near the entry point, the grease and other clogging elements are vacuumed out by the sewer truck staff.
    Up to now, the city has been required to purchase chemicals specifically for the cleaning of grease from sewer lines.
    The chemical itself costs $4,000, an amount that, Walker said, doesn’t nearly cover the other costs that come from its use.
    Page 2 of 2 - “That amount doesn’t cover the truck and labor costs that come with it,” Walker said, “or if we have to use the chemicals to treat in other areas. For example, grease might get into the sewer plant and cause problems that require cleaning and repair.”
    Walker said that, while some of the newer restaurants in the area have interceptors, there’s been no requirement for grease removal devices in the past.
    “Businesses and restaurants that don’t have them now won’t be required to get one,” Walker said. “We can’t require everyone to have one. A lot of them would probably go under if they had to buy one.”
    Walker said food service businesses will be monitored in terms of their grease output.
    “If they’ve got or are going to higher grease outputs, or if they’re in the process of a major remodeling,” Walker said, “requiring the installation of a grease interceptor or alternative grease collection device will be considered then.”
    The current progress of the developing grease control program was presented at the Monday Town Hall meeting at the McPherson Municipal Building.
    Walker said there will be a public hearing within the next several weeks. Representatives from the area food services industry will be invited to voice their thoughts and concerns.
    “After the meeting, comments will be reviewed,” Walker said, “and then the ordinance will go to the city commission for its decision.”
    Walker said that, while there will be monetary savings through implementing the grease management program, it’s impossible to estimate how much will be saved until the program is put in action.
    “It’ll take a little bit for people to get up to speed,” Walker said, “but, overall, it’ll significantly decrease the amount of grease going into our sewer system.”
      • calendar