El Paso Water’s Kyle Eckert and Luis Velasquez have heard all about the giant ball of grease – weighing 130 tons – that recently threatened to flood London’s streets with wastewater.
The pretreatment inspectors for Environmental Compliance and Industrial Pretreatment want you to know that EPWater is working toward a cleaner city one drain at a time.
Utility FOG inspectors aim to make sure London’s problem doesn’t become El Paso’s by educating restaurant staffs across the city. Their goal is to prevent wastewater blockages by teaching El Pasoans how to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease (FOG).
London’s giant mass – aka fatberg – formed when cooking oil and other fats were flushed down drains. From there, flushed FOG accumulated with other discarded materials , such as wipes and diapers.
The message is simple, Eckert said. “Be informed, be aware of what you are dumping down the drain and how it will impact the
community,” Eckert tells restaurant owners and managers.
Both Eckert and Velasquez have worked at wastewater plants and are familiar with the damage FOG can wreak.
“People want information on FOG,” Velasquez said. “The people we talk to want to know what’s wrong, how it’s wrong and how they can fix it.”
“We work very hard to minimize the impacts to the wastewater system, but we must rely heavily on individuals and businesses taking personal responsibility for what is poured down their drains,” said Sonia Wyatt, Code Compliance Manager.
During an inspection to a popular bakery on the East Side, Eckert trained Velasquez on EPWater’s FOG program, which regulates the discharge, transportation and disposal of FOG. Both checked the bakery’s grease trap to ensure compliance standards had been met.
What they found, though, was a grease trap brimming with fats, food waste and red chile sauce, the kind used for menudo and red chile tamales.
“It can get bad enough that the grease trap or pipe can no longer do its job,” Eckert said.
The FOG inspectors’ message is especially important Inspectors find FOGaround the holiday season when El Pasoans are cooking. The message is relevant year-round, Eckert said. EPWater reminds customers about the consequences of not heeding this advice with the “Defend Your Drains” outreach campaign.
One of the best ways to enforce the FOG message is by passing on the knowledge that comes with the job, Eckert said. It also helps if you have a captive audience, like the students at Ramona Elementary students on a recent visit.
“If you tell a child, they will tell their parents as soon as they get home,” Velasquez said. “They will make sure that their parents are disposing of FOG the right way.”
For more information, visit the EP Water page on FOG.