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Hamilton mandates grease traps for restaurants, garages

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Hamilton public works staff is updating the city’s sewer use bylaw to clamps down on the globs of grease that restaurants, garages and dental offices dump into the sewers.

Under an updated bylaw, Hamilton is mandating that all restaurants and garages install some form of grease control device to prevent the build up of grease in city pipes.

City staff said most restaurants already have installed a grease control device, but there are still businesses that allow grease to be dumped into the city sewer system where it builds up creating a potential blockage. Businesses in areas where there is a higher risk for the sewer pipes to be blocked will be encouraged to install a grease control device.

Cari Vanderperk, superintendent of monitoring and enforcement, said under the current sewer use bylaw it doesn’t mandate restaurants, car washes and dental offices to install grease control devices.

“When we go to a restaurant we have to ask them to put on in,” she said.

City staff is already seeing higher levels of oils and grease at the Woodward Avenue Sewage Treatment Plan, and the Dundas treatment plant over the last two years. Last year a toxic 15-tonne ‘fatberg’ of congealed fat and oil the size of a bus was discovered last August clogging 95 per cent of a 2.4 metre diameter pipe. It took workers three weeks to remove it.

Vanderperk said other municipalities already have the mandatory requirements embedded in their bylaws.

The cost to install the equipment is estimated to be up to $5,000, but city staff said there is an immediate payback for businesses.

Vanderperk said the city has received letters from business owners who have saved thousands of dollars in plumbers’ cost after installing the devices.

“The return on investment is instantaneously,” said Vanderperk.

Once the new bylaw is approved, city staff will talk to businesses and educate them about the new requirements, giving them time to make the necessary changes. They will also, said Vanderperk, tell businesses that selling their grease and oil to companies that use it for alternative fuel sources can prove profitable as well.

Despite the need for the mandated equipment, Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said some businesses will be surprised at the cost they will have to shoulder under the bylaw.

“It sounds like something we need to do,” he said. “I fear that some of the 1,700 restaurant businesses will be surprised (at the new requirement),” he said.

Also incorporated into the new sewer use bylaw will be nine new sewer discharge fees that will apply to large industrial businesses. The new fees range from $450 to $800.Three of the fees are optional, and three others are for new discharge permits. Vanderperk said the fees are being implemented to recover the city’s costs.

There are no new fees for small businesses, she said.

The public works committee approved the recommendations at its April 7 meeting, with the expectation the new bylaw will take effect May 1, 2014. Politicians will vote on the motion at their April 9 council meeting.

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