Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT March 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 23 of 43

24 | MARCH 2017 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Close-Up Insight report: Fats, Oil and Grease in association with T he last 1-2 years has seen a step change in the way water companies are addressing the problem of fats, oil and grease (FOG) in their wastewater networks, with pressure applied to commercial kitchens in particular to implement grease management measures. The spectacle of huge, congealed 'fatbergs' being dug out of sewer pipes is just the most eye-catching element of a problem which costs wastewater utilities tens of millions of pounds every year. Whether blocking customers' drains or clogging up wet wells and other assets downstream, FOG is a serious business, particularly when it binds together with wet wipes and other unwelcome detritus to create an immoveable mass behind which blockages are inevitable. Regulatory incentives and penalties in this AMP period around sewer „ ooding and blockages, as well as the burgeoning cost of clearing sewers, have spurred water companies to take action on the issue. There has been a particular focus on food service establishments (FSEs) because of the disproportionate number of blockages in areas with restaurants and Water companies turn the heat up on FOG concentrate on commercial premises (there is a separate team for domestic blockage hotspots) and all four are ex- police oˆ cers. This is no coincidence, for as well as investigation his work involves a great deal of polite but ‰ rm communication with restaurant owners and managers about the law. While his ‰ rst visit to any premises that has caused a blockage will be friendly in tone and will concentrate on identifying measures that the kitchen needs to correct, it will also highlight the relevant legislation (Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991) under which businesses can be prosecuted for blocking the sewer. If an FSE does not comply with the suggested measures and subsequently blocks the sewer again, they can expect to be asked to meet the water company's costs, or in the worst case, prosecuted. There have so far been two prosecutions by water companies of FSEs which have resulted in ‰ nes: a restaurant in East Grinstead, Sussex was ordered to pay £2,285 in Dec 2015 a– er being taken to court by Southern Water, while a restaurant in Codsall, near Wolverhampton, was ‰ ned nearly £5,500 in October 2016 a– er a prosecution by Severn Trent. Treatment and removal measures Most commonly, FOG is entering the sewer network not because the food establishment is pouring used cooking oil down the sink – waste cooking oil is usually collected and recycled – but because grease and fat from food is being constantly washed away from ● Utilities ramp up enforcement visits to food businesses ● Grease management practices under the spotlight ● Dosing role in grease management explored in research by James Brockett takeaways, and the diš erence that can be made by addressing poor kitchen practices and ‰ tting basic grease management equipment. Severn Trent, Southern Water and Anglian Water have been especially active in this space, although almost all the water and sewerage companies have ramped up their enforcement actions, with a shared impetus provided by the Sewer Network Abuse Prevention (SNAP) group within Water UK. "It has very much risen up the agenda in the last couple of years, and we've made it a priority," says Steve Williams, Network Protection & Enforcement Oˆ cer at Southern Water. "We get 23,000 blockages a year related to fats, oil and grease and food service establishments and it's costing us a lot of money, in the region of £15M a year, to deal with those blockages. So we've made it a priority - we've created a ‰ ve year project to see if we can reduce blockages by 25% and raise awareness by 25% at the same time. If we can do that it's a win-win all round." Williams is part of a team of four network protection oˆ cers who Above: Southern Water's enforcement offi cers at work; right: fatbergs in Thames Water sewers

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