Iowa Town City Council Considers Rules To Restrict Grease Traps

Iowa Town's City Council Considers Rules To Restrict Grease Traps

For many restaurants, fats, oils, and grease are a byproduct of serving up food. On Monday night, the Waterloo city council was set to vote on the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would restrict the amount of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) that makes it through their drains. The rules would apply to commercial-size kitchens.

But not every food service establishment has to worry about FOG. Al Manning, owner of the Sub City along Kimball Avenue, says his drains are relatively clean compared to those in an average burger joint.

“We don’t have any fryers, we don’t have any cooking equipment at all, we don’t have a garbage disposal, we don’t have a dishwasher, we only have one floor drain,” said Manning. He’s keeping an eye on where the city council lands on its vote for FOG regulations.

Brian Rath, operations supervisor at Waterloo’s wastewater treatment plant, said stricter rules are needed to keep those pipe-clogging materials out of the city’s sewers.

“That FOG needs to be removed before it goes into the collection system, otherwise we have plugs, and those plugs may cause sanitary sewer overflows,” Rath explained.

Rath said the proposed ordinance would also include regular inspections of establishments to make sure their grease traps are working, “so they can make sure they are doing their maintenance, cleaning their grease traps and interceptors, and disposing of that grease.”

But Manning hopes the city will understand that some kitchens put out more FOG than others. The new rules could require non-compliant establishments to install a grease interceptor, far costlier than a grease trap.

“They were talking as much as $30,000 or $40,000 in some cases, so obviously that’s not the kind of investment you want to make if you don’t have to,” Manning said. “I’d just hate to see a one-size-fits-all approach applied to all food service establishments, and I think from what they said at the council work session last week, they’re trying to avoid doing that.”

Council member Patrick Morrissey said Monday afternoon the proposal would need to be approved during three readings to become an ordinance.

The Drain Strainer can prevent food solids from clogging restaurant drains and grease traps in commercial kitchens.

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