Texas City Enforcing New Grease Trap Program
The City of Amarillo Texas is requiring restaurant and bar owners to obtain a new permit for waste water pre-treatment. It's part of the City's Grease Trap Program.
Some local bar owners have expressed their frustration with it, especially if they don't serve food at their establishment. According to Anthony Spanel, the environmental health director for the City of Amarillo, the City has had a waste water pre-treatment program since 2010, but this is the first time they are enforcing it at this level.
"I believe it’s been enforced at the industrial level for quite some time now, but we’re looking at it comprehensively for our entire food hygiene program and that includes restaurants for the first time," Spanel said.
The point of the program is to prevent fats, oils, and greases from getting into the sewer system.
"Anytime you wash grease in a pan, you see it kind of formulate on the surface of the pan, keep in mind that solidifies and turns into a hard surface," Spanel said. "If you are washing a lot of that into our city sewer system, over time that accumulates."
Cities spend billions of dollars every year cleaning lines out or having to replace them, so what the City did was evaluate all food establishments including bars in the city to determine if a grease trap was needed.
"Keep in mind, according to state law, food is anything you can consume so steak dinner or an alcoholic beverage is food," Spanel said. "Many facilities that you would consider a bar serve more than alcohol, they do peanuts, milks, creams, whipped creams, serving specialty drinks and things like that."
While the permit is now a requirement though, installing a grease trap doesn't have to be done immediately.
"We are only requiring facilities to install or upgrade their system at change of owner, change of use or extensive remodel or repair," said Panel. "So if it’s an existing facility that has these items and does not have a grease trap, we are not making them install."
According to the City, the money spent on the permit helps maintain and manage the program. Part of the program will be to educate owners, even if they don't need to install a grease trap. Spanel said wiping plates clean and using a paper towel to soak up grease to avoid washing it down the drain can make a big difference.
To prevent problems in your commercial kitchen, consider installing The Drain Strainer. Invented by a former restaurant owner, The Drain Strainer is a commercial garbage disposal alternative that captures food solids that could clog your pipes and grease trap while still allowing your sinks to drain quickly.