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Florida Restaurants Now Facing Stronger Regulations For Grease Disposal 


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Effective July 1, New Law Prohibits Use of  "pump and return" by Grease Haulers 

Florida’s food service businesses are now facing stronger regulations regarding grease disposal, in an effort to prevent clogs, blockages and significant damage to sewer systems. Starting today, restaurants and commercial kitchens across the City of Tampa will begin receiving mailers explaining the change in state law.

Effective July 1, 2022, Senate Bill 1110 is a state law forbidding the use of "pump and return" by grease waste haulers. This bill created Section 403.742, Florida Statutes, making it illegal to return grease waste and graywater to grease interceptors or grease traps. Additionally, the law prohibits disposing of grease waste at locations other than disposal facilities. 

Blockages caused by grease can obstruct the flow of water, leading to costly repairs for the City of Tampa. These blockages can cause fatbergs, which are masses made of materials like oil, grease, or "flushable" wipes that collect, grow and eventually block a sewage system or septic tank system. 

fatberg

A fatberg pulled out of City of Tampa Wastewater System.

“Fatbergs pose a big risk to sewers and the people who work in them,” said Eric Weiss, director of the City of Tampa’s Wastewater Department. “When we have a blockage, waste can back up through pipes, causing major flooding in businesses and homes. That’s why the changes in the state law are so important to maintaining our infrastructure and keeping wastewater services running smoothly.” 

This new law also requires grease waste haulers to maintain a service manifest, documenting that the grease waste they collect is disposed of at a permitted or certified waste management facility that is authorized to receive grease waste. 

Manifests will be reviewed by the Wastewater Department's grease management program inspectors during routine inspections of food service establishments.  

Food service establishments are inspected annually to ensure compliance with all Codes and to reduce the accumulation of grease in the collection system. 

The City of Tampa will be updating its Grease Management Ordinance to comply with Section 403.472, Florida Statutes.  

City Council will hold two public hearings to discuss these Code changes prior to their adoption, and there will be an opportunity for public comment at each hearing.   


What Can Residents Do To Help?

 

The easiest thing you can do is keep grease out of the sewer system in the first place.  

  • Never pour grease down the sink or into the toilet  
  • Do not put food scraps down the garbage disposal.  These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain. 
  • Use a strainer in the sink to catch food scraps and other solids.   
  • The Wastewater Department recommends allowing your hot oils, sauces, and gravies to cool before scraping them into a plastic bag and then disposing of in your trash can. 


What Should I Do If I See a Sewer Overflow?


Call the City of Tampa first. We are a 24/7 operation with staff on duty at all times. If you have a backup on your property or see an overflow occurring in your area please call us during normal business hours at 813-898-1420. 
 
After 5:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays, the 24/7 emergency number is 813-247-3451. A team will be dispatched to your location.  

The team will determine the source of the problem. If there is a backup or clogged line in our pipes, we'll fix the problem and it won't cost you a dime. If the backup or overflow is due to a problem in your pipes we will let you know.  

Grease Blockage in City of Tampa Wastewater System.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Kathlyn Fitzpatrick
Communications Coordinator, Wastewater Department
c: (813) 927-1377 / e: kathlyn.fitzpatrick@tampagov.net