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Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Richland County Heightens Efforts to Limit Oils, Grease that Damage Sewer Lines

(RICHLAND PIO) — Clogged pipes and sewer backups can increase costs for taxpayers, which is why Richland County Utilities is expanding oversight of the types of discharge that flow into the County’s sanitary sewer system.

Fats, oils and grease, commonly called FOG, enter the County’s sewer system every day and create big problems. FOG settles into thick layers of sludge inside pipes, leading to clogs that lead to sewage backups. Aside from being environmental and public health hazards, sewer overflows require extensive time and money to remedy, with tax dollars paying for cleanup.

“According to Environmental Protection Agency reports and other studies, FOG remains the biggest cause of sanitary sewer overflows,” said Richland County Utilities (RCU) Director Shahid Kahn. “FOG can accumulate and constrict flow and potentially cause blockages similar to plaque buildup in human blood vessels, resulting in a major treatment expense or catastrophic damage.”

To educate homeowners about the dangers of allowing grease to enter drains and to help food facilities come into compliance with discharge regulations, Kahn recently named RCU employee Jerry Driggers as the Richland County FOG Coordinator to lead an awareness initiative.

Driggers is visiting restaurants, cafeterias and other food facilities across Richland County to ensure they are compliant with the policies established in the RCU Code of Ordinances. Part of the RCU code requires food facilities to properly use grease traps, grease interceptors or other such apparatus that prevent FOG from flowing into the County’s sewer system. Once installed, grease entrapment apparatus must be cleaned and maintained on a regular schedule. RCU staff provides the initial inspection and permit for operating a grease trap or interceptor for a fee of $50, with subsequent annual inspections costing $30.

Failure to come into compliance with FOG regulations may result in local establishments receiving citations, fines or temporary closure orders, but Driggers’ goal as FOG coordinator is to guide businesses into compliance before any violations are incurred.

“Working with businesses to instill the ‘No Grease to Sewer’ rule will improve kitchen practices while serving the best interests of public health and the environment,” he said.

Homeowners can help reduce the risk of clogged pipes by not allowing FOG to enter drains. Instead, let the liquids solidify then wipe them away and discard in the trash. Or, pour the liquids into a container with a lid and drop off the container at an oil collection facility.

For more information about Richland County’s FOG Control Program and to read the RCU Code of Ordinance as it pertains to FOG, visit www.rcgov.us/Government/Departments/Utilities or contact FOG Coordinator Jerry Driggers at 803-401-0050.

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