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Preventing Fats, Oil and Grease Discharges Into Sewers

Residential and Commercial Guidelines

The fats, oil and grease (FOG) found in food ingredients such as meat, cooking oil, shortening, butter, margarine, baked goods, sauces and dairy products is a major concern for New York City’s sewers. When not disposed of properly, FOG builds up in the sewer system constricting flow, which can cause sewer back-ups into homes and overflow discharges onto streets. It can also interfere with sewage treatment processes at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plants.

To remediate this problem, DEP has developed an outreach program aimed at eliminating FOG from the sewer system. FOG buildup in sewer lines has many harmful and costly effects. Sewer backups into homes create a health hazard as well as an unpleasant mess that can cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to clean up. In certain parts of the City, FOG can enter storm drains and flow directly into water bodies and onto beaches creating serious environmental and health conditions.

In addition to problems caused by cooking oils, petroleum-based oils can also cause sewer-related problems. New York City residents may not be aware of or understand their role in these sewer-related problems or pollution, but they can do a lot to help eliminate FOG and other contaminants from the sewer system. For example:

  • Car washing can result in soap and oil residue entering the storm sewers
  • Run-off from your sprinkler, watering hose, or from the rain can carry yard waste and fertilizer into storm sewers
  • Littering can cause trash and debris to clog catch basins and storm drains
  • A gallon of oil poured down a storm drain could contaminate up to one million gallons of water

For more information about how you can help prevent FOG discharges into sewers, follow the links below: