Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOG) are devastating for municipal wastewater systems. They cause everything from flow inefficiency to mechanical damage to pumps to corrosion and deterioration of sewer mainlines. Unmitigated FOG buildups, colloquially known as “fatbergs,” cost municipalities hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of dollars for remediation and cleanup. Municipalities need proactive solutions for addressing FOG and the inevitable sewer gas (H2S) that accompanies fatbergs.
Where does FOG originate?
Virtually any drain connected to a municipal sewer system contributes to FOG, but industrial and commercial facilities — typically involved in food processing or preparation — are the worst offenders. The high volume of materials they process result in concentrated FOG contributions.
In most cases, FOG isn’t simply washed down the drain. Grease traps and scum collection systems catch much of the material before it reaches municipal wastewater systems. But certain factors cause FOG to bypass these mitigation systems, including lack of maintenance, infrequent pumping, and additives to avoid pumping that “mobilize” the FOG into the sewer where it accumulates downstream.
The unpleasant result? Fatbergs, named for their iceberg-like appearance, are chunks of concentrated FOG built up around inorganic materials, such as feminine hygiene products, “flushable” wipes, and virtually anything else we send down the drain. Fatbergs grow to enormous size and weigh literal tons. Fatbergs accumulate and flow downstream, where they either clog outlets or surface in wastewater treatment plants. FOG and fatbergs are nothing less than a menace for municipal wastewater systems.
The cost of all that FOG
Consider some of the costs that accompany fog buildups:
- Labor hours spent removing fatbergs from inlets or cleaning FOG from oleophilic surfaces
- The cost of repairs to damaged lift stations caused by FOG-related breakdowns
- Clogged pump remediation and repair, which increases tangible expenses and labor hours
- Infrastructure replacement costs due to corrosion from H2S combined with water (i.e., sulfuric acid)
- Remediation costs from FOG-related sanitary sewer overflows (SSO)
- Cleaning up after overflows onto the ground that may include backups that damage homes.
- Fines from EPA for repeated overflows
This is only a sample of the costs commonly associated with FOG and sewer gas accumulation. Actual dollar figures cover a significant range. Estimates for New York City alone exceed $4.65 million annually in remediation expenses arising from FOG-related issues.
Mitigating FOG: traditional vs. modern methods
Traditional methods for mitigating FOG in wastewater systems are virtually nonexistent. Grease traps are a good point-of-source opportunity, but once FOG enters the municipal system, there is little to be done until the buildup reaches a wastewater treatment plant. Manual removal is the one and only option, and it’s a largely reactive approach — after the damage is done.
At wastewater treatment facilities, FOG runs into skimmers and separators, which collect some of the problematic material before the next phase of treatment. This separate and skim practice is somewhat effective, but FOG buildups still occur — but in a slower fashion. Skimming equipment comes under heavy duress and demands constant care to ensure it doesn’t succumb to the same fate as municipal plumbing.
Modern, organic solutions are much more effective, and widespread adoption is on the rise. These microbiological methods actually process FOG, rather than just separating it from wastewater. In 2000, a study of bioremediation’s effect on oil and grease from bakery waste found that, over a span of 20 months, microbial agents decreased FOG content in wastewater from 1.5 g/L to less than 0.03 g/L — three times less than the regulatory limit.
And microbiological technology has significantly improved in the last two decades. EnBiorganic Technologies offers solutions for significantly reducing FOG in wastewater, mitigating the corrosive effects of sewer gas, and their combined impact on municipal sewer systems (e.g., fatbergs). Microbes, specifically formulated to feed on FOG, are released into the wastewater environment already knowing their food source. This is the most effective way to deal with FOG and the persistent problems that come with it.
FOG mitigation is a top priority
Get ahead of FOG and H2S impact in municipal wastewater systems and treatment facilities without introducing chemicals to inflows or relying on skimming to remove FOG materials. An organic, biological approach is the single most effective method for ending fatbergs forever.
For more information about our patent-pending, proprietary microbiological EBS-Di approach — formulated for the unique needs of each wastewater environment — contact EnBiorganic Technologies today. Explore the best option for dealing with FOG and H2S, achieve better results at exceptional savings, and put an end to fatbergs forever!