Cassville takes aim at grease traps
City to modify ordinance regarding grease trap cleaning
While they are not common, failed grease trap inspections can cause havoc in sewer and water treatment plants, and Cassville is taking a proactive approach in ensuring businesses keep the traps cleaned.
Steve Walensky, Cassville public works director, recently reported a failed inspection for a grease trap at Ramey in Cassville, and the report prompted the city council to ask to amend the sewer ordinance regarding the traps.
As it stands now, the ordinance allows businesses 10 business days to clean a grease trap that has failed a monthly inspection, or take on a $200 per hour fee for city employees to clean the traps. Walensky said an ordinance amendment will be presented to the council in July that will change that.
The new ordinance changes the cleaning window from 10 business days to three, and if not cleaned after three days, imposes a $50 per day fine until the trap is fixed. Businesses that fail two inspections over a 12-month period would be subject to a $100 per day fine, and the $200 per hour cleaning fee from the city remains unchanged.
"We had an issue with one customer having a failed grease trap, and it hit the radar because we had not had one in the 3-1/2 years I have been here," Walensky said. "The council asked what the ordinance said and agreed that three days to clean out traps is appropriate."
Walensky said there are 28 grease traps in Cassville, three of which are inactive. When grease traps go uncleaned, they may potentially clog up sewer lines, and may clog filters and pumps at the wastewater treatment plant.
"In the sewage collection and treatment business, grease is singled out for special attention because of its poor solubility in water and its tendency to separate from the liquid solution," Walensky said. "Large amounts of oil and grease in the wastewater cause trouble in the collection system pipes and the wastewater treatment plant. I have pulled out 8-foot long strands of grease out of pipes before."
Walensky said grease slows the efficiency of the city's sewer pipes, and can lead to some pipes having to be replaced sooner than otherwise expected.
"Grease in a warm liquid may not appear harmful," he said "But, as the liquid cools, the grease or fat congeals and causes nauseous mats on the surface of settling tanks, digesters, and the interior of pipes and other surfaces, which may cause a shutdown of treatment plant units or messy backups in a home or business."
The Public Works Department inspects each grease trap once per month, and Walensky said businesses usually have no issues, and when they do, they work with the city to resolve them.
"Ramey was very responsive and would have been within the timeline of the new ordinance anyway," he said. "If a business anticipates having a problem, putting in a proactive call to me would be beneficial to us, rather than coming to a routine inspection and finding a problem. We have good working relationships with businesses and restaurants because that helps the city keep costs down and have an efficient sewer system."
Walensky said individuals may also get involved in preventing grease issues, as grease dumped down a sink in a home is just as damaging.
The ordinance revision will be presented to the city council for a vote at its next meeting, July 14 at 6 p.m. at Cassville City Hall.