LANCASTER — No, you do not want to dispose of used cooking oil or grease down the garbage disposal.
“What we’d like to see in those cases is take some plain rags, paper towels, sop it up and place it in the trash,” Bruce Katz, utility services manager with the City’s Development Services Department said during a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Cooks can also pour the grease in a coffee can or jar. The grease will coagulate. When the container is full, it can be thrown in the trash.
“Why is it a bad idea to put it down the garbage disposal?” Mayor R. Rex Parris said.
“It does the same thing to the pipes as it does to your arteries,” Vice Mayor Marvin Crist said.
The City Council might not be able to control how home chefs dispose of their used cooking grease, but it can add more requirements to food service establishments in the City.
Council members gave the first of two required approvals to a proposed amendment that would expand the maintenance requirements of grease interceptors, and include provisions requiring food service establishments to keep training logs, manifests, and logs of collections and disposal of waste cooking oil.
According to the proposed ordinance, which requires a second approval to become law, the logs shall then be made available to any City representative or inspector upon request.
An inspector could issue administrative citations for non-compliance or refusal to grant access to the premises for inspection.
In 2008, when the City formed it Utility Services Division took control of the sewer system from Los Angeles County, where there were about 14 overflows annually. The number immediately dropped to five overflows a year, then down to three sanitary sewage overflows, or SSO, where the sewage backs up out of the manhole, goes down the street into the gutter.
“We’re about eight months presently without any SSO,” Katz said.
The fats, oils and grease, or FOG, law was first adopted in 2009 to help reduce or eliminate fats, oils, and grease from entering the sewer system by restaurants that generate it.
Katz said it was time for an update.
Councilman Ken Mann, a restaurateur, agreed.
“I think it brings us into better times in relationship to having good management in relation to the sewer system,” Mann said.
By the way, “flushable” wipes are really not flushable because they don’t remain in the system long enough to degrade.
“It ends up in the treatment plant, and at the treatment plant it ends up ragging up the pumping system,” Katz said. “In our lines, if we have any root intrusion, or when I talk about occlusion with the grease, the rags get stuffed into that area and we have a backup, and we have the SSO.”