Grease trap regulations in Palm Beach County are strict, and running afoul of them can impact your restaurant. The state of Florida mandates that grease traps in Palm Beach county comply with state mandates but the county has additional regulations as well as a pretreatment program.
First, what is a grease trap?
A grease trap is a device kitchen wastewater flows through before entering a wastewater system. This receptacle (aka a grease interceptor) “traps” grease. How?
Grease is less dense than water and doesn’t mix with it. This results in grease (FOG – fats, oils grease) floating on top of water.
When kitchen wastewater flows through a grease interceptor, the grease rises to the surface inside the trap and is trapped using a system of baffles, plastic walls inside a grease interceptor tank that slow and manage the flow of water. The grease fills the trap at the top, because it is lighter than the water below. Grease-free wastewater flows out of the bottom of the trap into the wastewater system.
Open a grease trap and you will see a layer of grease. This layer must be regularly vacuumed out of the trap and properly disposed of or recycled. If it is not emptied on a timely basis, FOGs leak into the sewer system causing backups, damage and fines.
Grease Trap Regulations in Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County has a pre-treatment program for restaurants, industrial companies, hospitals and hotels.
“The program requires all new connections to the sewer system to be inspected for applicable pretreatment equipment, such as traps and grease interceptors. Any changes in existing non-residential customer accounts are reviewed for pretreatment requirements. It is recommended that these changes, renovation, alteration, etc., be forwarded to the Utilities for review for the need of any type of pretreatment. This will avoid delays in re-construction. The program provides for an annual OGI fee of $300 be added to the water bill. All industrial users are subject to permits based on the process wastewater discharged into the sanitary sewer system. These permitted users are monitored and sampled for compliance with the local discharge limits listed in the ordinance as well as federal limits listed in the code of federal regulations.”
The Utilities Department’s Monitoring Program requires all restaurants and food service facilities to clean their grease traps at least annually. However, these traps are sampled and inspected every six months. If test results show an excess of prescribed limits, the restaurant must have the trap cleaned, and a manifest provided to the utility inspector. The restaurant must then resample and have the sample tested by a certified, independent laboratory and the results provided to the pretreatment program coordinator.
Best Practices for Grease Traps in Palm Beach County
If you want to stay in compliance with state and county regulations, keep your restaurant functioning well, smelling like your food and customers vying for reservations or lining up for takeout, here is a list of best practices to help you accomplish that goal.
- Clean your trap/interceptor quarterly or semi-annually based on volume and capacity.
- Have your trap cleaned/inspected by a licensed inspection company such as CleanFri.
- Keep copies of your manifests for future inspections
- Train all employees in proper disposal of grease and oil
- Install screens on all kitchen drains
- Recycle your used cooking oil with CleanFri and dispose/recycle solid grease.
- Ask your grease trap cleaner for recommendations
If you would like to know more about different types of grease traps and how they work they work here is a primer.