Fats, oils, grease disposal program to relaunch in time for Thanksgiving

Stafford County is posting photos like these, of grease-clogged water pipes, to social media in hopes residents won't pour hot grease down the kitchen drain.

Stafford County plans to relaunch its Fats, Oils, and Grease, known as FOGs, program after being put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a recent Infrastructure Committee meeting, members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors learned the program prevents damage caused by the sludge that flows from kitchen sinks to the county’s pipes and sewers, and out to streams and rivers.

Stafford originally launched the program in November 2019 with a goal of influencing both residents and restaurants to put their used kitchen grease into cans and jars instead of just dumping it down the drain. The county launched a social media campaign later that month called #canyourgrease on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as well as releasing several thousand informational flyers to bring attention to the issue and inform the general public about the issues caused by FOGs.

In 2018, the County experienced 13 sanitary sewer overflows and 191 recorded sewer-main backups. An estimated 50% of those events had been attributed to FOG backups in the sewer systems. The cost of the removal of FOGs in that same time period cost Stafford an estimated $1.6 million.

The program had been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic but is now due for a return. Stafford is working on an updated proposed timeline for the program that hopes to be fully adopted by January 2022.

The county has been working with its Utility Commission in crafting the program which will have the primary function of educating local businesses of county requirements. The program also hopes to establish special permitting that will only be applicable to businesses and establishments with a high potential for FOG contribution. The proposed permits are planned to be enforced through annual inspections and associated fees.

The proposed fiscal impact would be a combined $79,000 which would include $76,000 annually for a pre-treatment inspector which the cost would include salary and benefits. Stafford would also spend $3,000 annually for the program’s website, fogbmp.com.

The current step in the revised timeline is to resurvey the local industries and to restart the campaign to inform the public about FOGs. This point was enforced by Falmouth District Supervisor Meg Bohmke who asked about the frequency of FOG buildups and whether they were constantly occurring in the same areas as were in the past.

The next step in the timeline will be implemented beginning January 2021 as the county looks to finalize its policies for FOGs as well as continue its outreach, education, and notifications about the upcoming policy.

The county recommends to store grease in a heat-proof container and leave it at one of two sites for disposal: The R-Board Regional Landfill at 489 Eskimo Hill Drive in Stafford County or the Belman Road Recycling Center, at 1200 Belman Road in Fredericksburg.

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