Cloud-based IoT and GIS utility compliance solutions enable real-time operations monitoring, inspections, and reporting.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates more than 40,000 sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) occur every year. Sewer main blockages caused 48% of these overflows, and 47% of those blockages are FOG-related (fats, oil, and grease).
It is critical for wastewater treatment plants and utilities to implement compliance solutions that will help accurately monitor data, conduct inspections, and file reports to avoid SSOs.
SSOs can contain high levels of suspended solids, pathogenic organisms, toxic pollutants, nutrients, oil, and grease. These overflows pollute surface and ground waters, threaten public health, and hurt aquatic life. In addition, SSOs cause the closure of beaches and other recreational areas, flood properties, and pollute rivers and streams.
Every year, wastewater leaders implement FOG Inspection programs to prevent the threat of sanitary sewer overflows caused by improperly disposed of fats, oils and grease.
Preventing SSOs Enforcement Priority for EPA
The EPA’s top enforcement goal is to eliminate SSOs by ensuring that wastewater from municipalities is transferred to treatment plants following the Clean Water Act mandates.
“Properly designed, operated, and maintained sanitary sewer systems are meant to collect and transport all of the sewage that flows into them to a publicly owned treatment works (POTW). However, occasional unintentional discharges of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers occur in almost every system.”—EPA
SSOs are illegal under the Clean Water Act. The EPA has issued over $2 million in penalties for violation of the CWA.
The EPA reports that “grease from restaurants, homes, and industrial sources are the most common cause (47%) of reported blockages. Grease is problematic because it solidifies, reduces conveyance capacity, and blocks flow.”
State and Federal FOG Requirements
Businesses that dispose of fats, oil, or grease must comply with state and federal requirements and guidelines. Food service establishments (FSEs) must install and maintain either a grease interceptor or a grease trap. Additionally, FOG rules require that grease interceptors are clean and operable.
Regardless of the type of equipment a food handling facility uses, best practices should be implemented to control waste disposal. FOG maintenance and control programs require the documentation of grease traps and interceptors maintenance.
FOG requirements aim to eliminate sewer system overflows and reduce fats, oils, and grease disposal into sanitary sewer collection systems. This lowers maintenance costs for sanitary sewer collection systems and improves the operation of such systems.
The program also encourages restaurants to adopt best management practices that reduce FOG disposal and water use. For example, restaurant staff can dry wipe plates and cooking utensils into the trash rather than rinsing them in the sink.
Overseeing the FOG Inspection Process
Larger municipalities can assign employees to the field to inspect and create FOG reports. However smaller cities, with limited staff, may need to outsource the work, which can be expensive. Additionally, all the paperwork and processing and staff must complete reporting.
The steps to FOG compliance are work-intensive and require a great deal of paperwork and reporting. Following are the basic steps that the City of Golden Valley, MN follows:
- City issues notice of FOG compliance to food service establishment (FSE)
- FSE responds
- If compliant, the city sends an inspector
- If equipment is not maintained, the city will issue a correction notice
- Another inspection is required to make sure installation is correct and regularly maintained
- Ongoing inspections are needed — the FSE establishes FOG best management practices and logs routine grease interceptor/traps cleaning processes
If an FSE is not compliant, the city issues a Correction Notice and follows up with inspections.
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Join Nobel Systems CTO Aretha Samuel on June 7, 12:30 p.m. PST for a virtual presentation: Simplify Operational Workflows and Regulatory Activities
Benefits of using a Real-Time, Cloud-Based FOG Inspection Solution
GeoViewer FOG offers a cloud-based solution that enables inspectors to submit data from the field. The tool also makes the inspection process easy, with an automated management system that gives a visual view of the work area to understand the workflow.
GeoViewer FOG simplifies regulatory utility compliance by eliminating the paperwork and enabling an electronic audit trail. Nobel Systems’ cloud-based tools takes advantage of GIS, Analysis, and in-depth reporting to visualize a FOG inspection program’s activity and results.
Real-Time Inspection and Reporting
Using GeoViewer on an iPad or iPhone, inspectors can input FOG inspection information, such as clogged pipes, flow rats, sing/garbage clogs, grease traps, and interceptors, into a digital form.
The inspection form is instantly populated with available data such as restaurant name, owner, address, permit numbers, contact information, maps, and all other pertinent information, and is attached to the inspection form. The cloud-based, real-time process saves time and eliminates errors.
Follow-up tickets can be issued if violations show the FOG status, and inspectors can also set a reminder. Inspectors need not return to the office to file a report but can immediately email it from the tablet. Additionally, the inspector can print the report via the mobile app and give a copy to the facility owner at the location.
GeoViewer is a cloud-based operations and asset management software platform to manage fixed assets visually, manage work orders, and simplify utility compliance reporting for public works, water, wastewater, stormwater, and other utility markets.
Our intuitive system is simple for users to use yet offers powerful integration and automation features such as SCADA and IoT integration. In addition, GeoViewer is available for global deployment and is securely hosted by Amazon Web Services.
Want to Learn More About GeoViewer and the FOG Inspection Module?
Join Nobel Systems CTO Aretha Samuel on June 7, 12:30 p.m. PST for a virtual presentation: Simplify Operational Workflows and Regulatory Activities.
CEWA AC21 Virtual Conference and Expo
Join Nobel Systems at @CEWA AC21 Virtual Conference & Expo, June 7 – 9, 2021, for a virtual presentation of its GeoViewer Sewer Management Tools, a presentation on how El Toro Water District manages their SSMP Program with GeoViewer, and Learn how Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD) maintains their wastewater collection system made up of over 37,000 sewer connections
All events are online. Register to attend. https://www.eventscribe.net/2021/AC21/
Our full AC21 schedule:
Simplify Operational Workflows and Regulatory Activities
Speakers: Nobel CTO Aretha Samuel
Jabina Richard, Software Engineer, Nobel Systems
Sign up to join the virtual presentation. June 7, 12:30 p.m to 1 pm
How El Toro Water District manages its SSMP Program with GeoViewer
Speakers: David Manuwa, VP Customer Success, Nobel Systems
Jabina Richard, Software Engineer, Nobel Systems
June 9, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Sign up to Join Live