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Protect Our Pipes

Learn How to Help Keep our Sanitary Sewerage System Flowing Properly

Sewer PipeWhen you use your toilet, shower/tub, sink, washing machine, or dishwasher, wastewater leaves your home or business through pipes that connect to the public sanitary sewerage system.

Many chemicals and household or business items that are poured down the drain or flushed can cause damage to these pipes, causing sewer backups into homes, businesses, city streets, and other public areas.

Anyone who uses the public sanitary sewerage system should be responsible for what they flush or pour down the drain. Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (RWRD) has provided you information and guidelines for households and businesses to help RWRD Protect our Pipes!

Guidelines for Pima County Residents

What Can I Put Down My Drain?

Are there other substances I should not put in my drains or toilets? How should I dispose of hazardous waste?

DO NOT put automotive fluids, pesticides, solvents, and other similar substances down the drain. DO NOT put antifreeze down the drain. This will not protect your home's pipes from freezing in the winter. Select less toxic alternatives whenever possible and dispose of any household hazardous materials through the County/City Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program.
Wastes are collected at the Household Hazardous Waste Center at 2440 West Sweetwater Drive and at collection sites throughout the city. For information, call 520-888-6947.

What about medicines? How can I dispose of them safely?

Medicines should not be flushed. Many medications are not removed through the wastewater treatment process and can end up in the environment when discarded down drains. RWRD participates in the Dispose-a-Med Program.
If you cannot get to a Dispose-a-Med event, current recommendations are to grind medicines up with something like cat litter or coffee grounds to make them unusable, then throw them in the trash.

Should I flush disposable wipes?

Disposable Wipes should NOT be flushed! Disposable moist towelettes allow for the convenient clean up of sticky messes and are very handy during diaper changes. Another common use is to sanitize germy surfaces. Some manufacturers of disposable wipes indicate on the product’s packaging that the wipes are biodegradable and flushable. Because many of us are concerned about the environment, we want to buy products that are biodegradable; when we are told that we can safely flush a biodegradable product, it makes its use even more convenient.
Unfortunately, wipes rarely if ever biodegrade in the public sanitary sewerage system. However, their presence in the system can cause clogs and equipment failure in lift stations where mechanical pumps facilitate the conveyance of sewage in many areas of community. Additionally, if too many wipes accumulate in the sewer system, they can block pipes which can lead to the overflow of raw sewage into streets, buildings and the environment. When disposable wipes make it through the sewer system to a wastewater treatment facility, they are removed at the front end of the treatment plant and are taken to a landfill.
RWRD asks that you do not flush disposable wipes down toilets. Instead, discard them in the trash. The proper disposal of these convenient and useful products will help keep our sewer system flowing properly, thereby ensuring the Department can safely contain, convey, and treat the community’s wastewater.

Can I discharge water from my swimming pool into the sewer? How?

Yes. Effective April 1, 2008, the discharge of swimming pool water into the public sanitary sewerage system is generally authorized. For detailed information, see Swimming Pool Water Discharge Procedure ( July 1, 2017).

Grease Collection and Recycling

Save your used cooking oils and grease throughout 2017, and bring it to us during our 13th Annual Grease Collection and Recycling Event on Saturday, January 6, 2018 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m at the following locations:

East O'Rielly Chevrolet 6160 E. Broadway Blvd.
Midtown City Council Ward 3 Office 1510 E. Grant Road
Northwest Pima Community College Northwest 7600 N. Shannon Rd.
South Kino Sports Complex 2500 E. Ajo Way
Sahuarita Sahuarita Town Hall Complex 375 W. Sahuarita Center Way

The collected grease will be recycled into biodiesel, a cleaner burning fuel than regular diesel.

You can always recycle your grease at the year-round collection site below:
EDGE Group
8939 S. Eisenhower Road
Monday - Thursday, 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
(520) 790-3341
After hours by appointment.

Guidelines for Pima County Businesses

Grease Management Program

RWRD is responsible for maintaining the County’s public sanitary sewerage system and for enforcing the Industrial Wastewater Ordinance {Ordinance 2013-32, §13.36.400, Article XIV, Grease Management Program}.

RWRD's Industrial Wastewater Control section is helping businesses comply with the County’s Industrial Wastewater Ordinance, by educating not only restaurant owners but also operators of nursing homes, hospitals, laundries, and dry cleaners, among others, on the requirements concerning the proper sizing, installation, and maintenance of grease interceptors; thus, keeping grease and other materials and chemicals out of the public sanitary sewerage system .

Preventing Grease Discharges into Sewers

Food Service Facilities (FSFs) are a significant source of fats, oil, and grease (FOG) because of the amount of grease used in cooking. The Pima County Grease Management Program was developed to assist restaurants and other FSFs with proper handling and disposal of their FOG. Through implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs), these establishments should be able to significantly reduce the amount of FOG that goes down their drains. This will minimize back-ups and help business owners comply with the County’s requirements. The National Restaurant Association has developed a Fats, Oils and Grease Control Program Tool Kit that many restaurants have found useful. Additionally, Pima County has developed a Self-Inspection Form that will aide restaurants in creating new BMPs or identifying any issues with their existing BMPs.
The following signs, which can be posted above sinks, can make FOG reduction efforts more visible to employees:
To work effectively, sewer systems need to be properly maintained, from the drain to the treatment plant. If wastes are disposed of correctly, the County’s sewer system can handle them without any problem. Grease is an example of a waste that the sewer system cannot handle, and therefore should not be put down the drain. The County needs businesses and individuals to do their part to maintain the system because repeated repairs are disruptive to residences and businesses alike. Furthermore, proper disposal by commercial establishments is required by law.
To ensure the proper disposal of animal fats and vegetable oils, and to prevent sewage back-ups, the County requires grease-generating establishments to correctly install, operate, and maintain properly sized and designed grease interceptors. These grease interceptors must be routinely cleaned to ensure proper operation.

How Grease Interceptors Work

To ensure the proper disposal of animal fats and vegetable oils, and to prevent sewage back-ups, the County requires grease-generating establishments (e.g. restaurants, food handling operations, hospitals, day care, and senior centers) to correctly install, operate, and maintain properly sized and designed grease interceptors (hydro-mechanical or gravity). These grease interceptors must be routinely cleaned to ensure proper operation.
If a grease interceptor is not properly installed or maintained it will not do its job! These interceptors must be the proper size to work correctly. A licensed plumber can determine the correct size. Plumbers and business owners may also contact Pima County’s Industrial Wastewater Control at (520) 724-6200, for technical assistance.

Hydro-Mechanical Grease Interceptor

Hydro-mechanical grease interceptors (HGIs), formerly named grease traps, treat kitchen wastewater from food service facilities (FSFs) using gravity separation aided by vented flow control. They are typically installed indoors and connected to one to four sinks in the kitchen. They accumulate fats, oils, and grease (FOG) and solids over time in a relatively small separator tank allowing the treated wastewater to discharge to the sanitary sewer.
HGI maintenance must be performed at least monthly.

 

HGI Interceptor

Gravity Grease Interceptor

Gravity grease interceptors (GGIs) treat kitchen wastewater from food service establishments (FSEs) using gravity separation. They accumulate fats, oils, and grease (FOG) and solids over time allowing the treated wastewater to discharge to the sanitary sewer system.
GGI maintenance must be pumped-in-full at least every six months or when the total accumulation of surface FOG (including floating solids) and settled solids reaches 25 percent of the GGI’s overall depth.

 

GGI interceptor

Record-Keeping Requirements

All Pretreatment device maintenance, compliance reports and related correspondence must be retained on-site by the User for a minimum of three years. A separate maintenance log shall be maintained on-site for each device. Maintenance logs shall include the following information: device location and volume; maintenance dates; volume removed in gallons; name of company and person(s) performing maintenance; and disposal location (facility where the material was disposed).
Records associated with waste cooking oil collection and disposal shall also be kept onsite by the User for a minimum of three years. Waste cooking oil collection logs shall include the following information: collection date; volume collected in gallons; name of company and person(s) performing collection; and disposal methods.
Records of compliance with BMP training  shall be maintained by each FSF.

Enforcing regulations

The National Pretreatment Program  provides regulatory tools and authority to state and local POTW pretreatment programs for eliminating pollutant discharges that cause interference at POTWs, including interference caused by the discharge of Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) from food service establishments (FSE). More specifically, the Pretreatment Program regulations at 40 CFR 403.5(b)(3) prohibit “solid or viscous pollutants in amounts which will cause obstruction” in the POTW and its collection system.
RWRD enforces the County’s industrial wastewater ordinance and may fine businesses that are not in compliance. RWRD routinely sends inspectors to businesses to check interceptors and make sure they are correctly sized, properly installed, maintained, and operating effectively. If a business has an interceptor that is not being maintained or has grease bearing waste streams that are not connected to pretreatment, inspectors will order the owner or operator to correct the issues, based on Pima County’s Industrial Wastewater Ordinance. To avoid the expense of penalties, install the correctly sized unit and maintain it properly.

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Wastewater Reclamation

201 N. Stone Ave., 8th Fl.
Tucson, AZ 85701

(520) 724-6500

 

Community Relations
(520) 724-6543


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