The River Keeper

Stormwater BMPs and the Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a time for family and feasting, but when the meal is over are you properly disposing your FOG waste? Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are often disposed of improperly. FOG comes from meats, butter, lard, food scraps, sauces dressings, dairy products, and cooking oil. Some methods of improper disposal may seem obvious as a bad choice, such as dumping used cooking oil down the storm drain, but even washing greasy residues down the kitchen drain can create problems. 

Improper disposal of FOG can lead to property damage, health hazards, and environmental problems. Pipes may become blocked by FOG poured down the drain, even if diluted with hot, soapy water. Grease transforms back into a solid as it cools. As FOG builds up in the wastewater system, catching on items leading to "fatbergs" that create blockages. One famous example being the 15-ton London fatberg, which damaged the sewer and took 6 weeks to repair.

FOG can run into a nearby stream or river, which affects our drinking water. Oils pollute streams and creeks by forming a film on the water surface, which prevents oxygenation for aquatic life. Polluted stormwater runoff can lead to excessive and costly maintenance and cleanup. 

Do not pour FOG down the drain!

What can you do?

Don't pour your Thanksgiving grease down the drain.

  • Reuse your cooking oil. After your used oil has cooled, filter and freeze it.
  • If you can't reuse your used cooking oil, pour it into a sturdy closed-lid container and dispose of it in the trash. 
  • Cover the kitchen sink with a catch basket and empty into the garbage can as-needed.
  • Scrape plates over trash can or dry-wipe with paper towels.
  • Prewash dishes and pans with cold water before putting them in dishwasher
  • Remember: The drain is not a dump and garbage disposals don't fight FOG.

Restaurants also beware the FOG

The City of Roanoke prohibits fats, oils, and grease from being poured down the storm drain because it is considered as an illicit discharge.
Report illicit discharges to Roanoke Stormwater.

Here are some guidelines to ensure that restaurants are meeting the stormwater management criteria set forth in local, state, and federal environmental regulations.

  • Clean floor mats, filter, and garbage cans in sink that is connected to the sanitary sewer system. DO NOT clean in the parking lot, alley, or sidewalk/street.
  • Recycle grease and oil and request a pick-up service. DO NOT pour grease into sinks, floor drains, trash bins, street gutters, or parking lots!
  • Use dry methods for spill clean-up; sweep the parking lot rather than hosing it off, use cat litter to soak up spills. Make sure to pick up outside litter often, including cigarette butts.
  • Keep dumpster lids closed and areas around them clean. DO NOT fill them with liquid waste or hose them out.
  • Inform employees about these measures and include information in training programs.

For more information on restaurant FOG management visit Clean Valley Council

Have a water efficient H2Oliday!

Preparing for and cleaning up after a holiday meals and parties can use much more water than ordinary, everyday use. Running your tap continuously while preparing food or washing dishes wastes water and can use more than two gallons of water every minute your tap is running. That's a lot when you're cooking a big meal for extended family members and friends! Find ways to reduce your water and energy use, for example:
  • Scrape dirty dishes clean, instead of using water to rinse them before you put them in the dishwasher.
  • If you don’t use a dishwasher, fill the sink with a few gallons of soapy wash water, clean your dishes, and put them aside. Then rinse them all together afterward.

Either of these simple practices could save 10 gallons of water. If every American household reduced their water use by 10 gallons on just Thanksgiving Day, it would save more than 1 billion gallons of water, as well as save any energy or materials used to pump or treat tap water. More tips on WaterSense water-efficient products.

Roanoke Stormwater

Stormwater in the news!

ROVVER X Helping to Create Roanoke's Clean Water Legacy. 

Roanoke Stormwater was spotlighted in this month's Envirosight newsletter. Roanoke Stormwater Utility uses ROVVER X sewer inspection camera crawlers and a Quickview Haloptic zoom camera to aid them in their mission to create a "Clean Water Legacy." The information the stormwater crew collects is used by engineers to address flooding concerns and benchmark assets. Using the ROVVER X has been a major asset in mapping the City's storm-drain system and locating sources of pollutants, such as a gasoline leak

"We take a proactive approach to stormwater management. Knowing the condition of our stormwater infrastructure and being able to locate assets help us better manage the quality of our water source and prevent flooding," states Ryan Apple, Stormwater Utility's Maintenance Crew Leader. 

Learn more about what Roanoke Stormwater is doing on our Facebook page!

Clean and Green
City of Roanoke
Be part of the solution, not the pollution. Together, we can leave a Clean Water Legacy!
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