The City of Portland spends millions of dollars each year to clean and repair sewer lines clogged by grease, and to treat wastewater containing high concentrations of fats, oils and grease (FOG) and food waste. Blocked sewer pipes can cause sewer backups in basements and sewer overflows from manholes. Repairs and cleanup are expensive for the city and property owners, and sewage releases threaten public health and the environment. Restaurants and other food service establishments are the main source of FOG and food waste pollution.
Requirements and Rate Structure
The Bureau of Environmental Services collects fees from residential and commercial sewer customers to support Portland’s sewage collection and treatment system. Sewage collected from some commercial customers contains large amounts of fats, oils and grease; organic material; suspended solids; and food waste. Some of those customers pay a higher sewer fee because it costs more to treat this concentrated sewage.
More than 3,000 food service establishments discharge concentrated FOG and food waste. In January 2012, the city began implementing Cut Through the FOG, which added new requirements and began phasing in new sewer rates for all food service establishments. Cut Through the FOG increased the number of businesses that pay additional fees for waste discharges that require additional sewer cleaning and treatment, and changed sewer rates for other businesses and residential ratepayers.
Cut Through the FOG requires that all FOG conveyance lines be connected to grease interceptors in all Portland food service establishments when there is new construction, redevelopment, tenant improvement, or change in ownership or occupancy.
Rate Options Encourage Reduced Sewer Waste Discharges
Cut Through the FOG sewer rates are based on water use and unique features and practices at each food service establishment. City staff visit each affected business to verify conditions and offer information on the following best management practices, which help offset rate increases:
- Installing and maintaining grease interceptors
- Removing kitchen garbage disposals
- Participating in food composting and food donation programs
Cut Through the FOG Benefits
Reducing sewer overflows and backups:
- Protects property, public health and the environment.
- Reduces the costs of cleaning and repairing sewer lines, and treating wastewater.
- Saves ratepayers money by reducing investigations and enforcement related to sewer backups and overflow.
To learn more about grease interceptor installation requirements, call 503-823-7122.