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Clogged pipes are no fun for anyone. They can cause sewer backups into your home, and it can be hard work to get the pipes clean and flowing again.

Fats and oils can build up inside pipes and over time restrict wastewater flow, if they're poured down the drain. This could cause sewer blockages that can result in backups into your home or overflowing manholes. That's why it's so important to keep the grease out. To do that, both residential and commercial customers have key roles to play in following WSSC Water's FOG Program.

What commercial customers can do

WSSC Water has partnered with the Restaurant Association of Maryland and other agencies to help the food service industry determine best practices for disposing of fats, oils and grease. As with residential customers, the #1 rule is to keep fats, oils and grease out of the plumbing system in the first place. These additional tips will help to greatly reduce the amount of FOG entering the sewer system:

  • Train all kitchen staff on the best grease disposal practices to follow
  • Do not pour, scrape, or otherwise dispose of fats, oils, or grease into sinks or drains; Post “NO GREASE” signs near sinks and drains
  • After pumping out grease abatement devices and interceptors, inspect them to be sure they were adequately cleaned
  • Store used fryer oil in barrels for recycling
  • Dump mop water only into drains connected to your grease treatment system
  • Use absorbents to soak up spills containing fats, oils, and grease
  • Do not put food (including liquid food) down the drain. That includes milkshake syrups, batter and gravy
  • Use strainers on sinks and floor drains to prevent solid material from entering the sewer
  • If you have an automatic grease recovery device, empty the collection pan before it becomes full
  • Wastewater generated by cleaning duct filters or range filters must be routed through the grease treatment system
  • Regularly train all employees on the proper disposal of fats, oils, and grease.

Permit Program

All Food Service Establishments that might discharge fats, oils, and grease must apply for a FSE Wastewater Discharge Permit and a Montgomery County or Prince George's County Health Department permit. This includes establishments such as restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, hotel kitchens, church kitchens, school kitchens, bars, or any other commercial or industrial operation that discharges grease-laden wastewater.

Inspections

All Food Service Establishments are subject to annual inspections, and may be inspected at any time in response to complaints or reports of sewer blockages. During an inspection, WSSC Water Investigators will verify that all required fixtures are connected to an adequately sized grease treatment device, and will review maintenance records or other documents as necessary.

Annual Fees

Established in 2007, annual FOG fees are billed only through the WSSC Water and Sewer account associated with the Food Service Establishment (FSE) and therefore not necessarily to the FSE’s location address. This assures the fee is paid in a timely manner and is associated with the sewer service connection provided to the property owner/account holder. Fees are properly invoiced so that the property owner/account holder can have the option to collect the fee from their tenant if they wish.

NOTE: Effective July 1, 2021, the primary Annual FOG Discharge Fee will remain at $537 annually. This fee is for any and all FSEs who are required to have Grease Abatement Devices. The annual fee for FSEs who must possess a FOG Discharge Permit but are not required to have a grease abatement device (BMP permit) will remain at $152 annually.

Enforcement

Failure to comply with any condition of an FSE permit can result in penalties that include fines up to $1,000 or termination of water and sewer service.

What you can do at home

The best way for residential customers to help: Don't pour fats, oils or grease down the drain. That's sure to cause clogs, possible sewer backups into your home and sewage overflows in the WSSC Water system. So do your part by properly disposing of fats, oils and grease:

  • Pour the oil or grease into a can
  • Put a lid on the can
  • Cool the can of grease in the refrigerator
  • When it's full, toss the can into the trash
  • Be sure the can is covered so that if the grease melts, it does not spill into your trash.

Just remember: To keep the grease out, "Can it. Cool it. Toss it."

Contact Us

Contact the Fats, Oils and Grease section if you have any questions about the FOG program.

Contact the FOG Staff

Related Links

Last Modified: April 5, 2021, 11:32 am EDT