Burns Lake businesses that have commercial kitchens will soon receive a letter advising that the village will to begin to consistently enforce proper maintenance of grease traps.
“We are spending a significant amount of money every year maintaining the sewer system, so we are going to start going after the people that are not maintaining it [grease traps],” said Robert Krause, the village’s director of protective services.
“This maintenance of the sewer lines can be directly tied to improper maintenance or lack of a grease trap in businesses which produce large quantities of kitchen grease.”
According to a village staff report presented to council last week, there are a number of restaurants and food providers within the municipality that either do not have a grease trap installed, or who fail to maintain them in an adequate state, causing sewer lines to clog.
“This requires maintenance staff to spend time and dollars to rectify the problem,” said Krause.
In the past year, the clean-out of clogged sewer lines due to grease accumulations accounted for $16,280 in costs to the village. The five-year average cost to clean up sewer lines is approximately $12,000.
Although village bylaws currently authorize staff to enforce compliance, Krause says there has been an “inconsistent application” of the bylaws.
“We have the authority under the existing bylaws to charge for the clean-out of blocked sewer lines which are the result of the discharge of excessive quantities of fat, oil or grease,” he said. “The fact that village funds are being expended every year to maintain the sewer lines, it is necessary for a consistent and fair approach to be applied.”
Krause said the plan is to send out letters to all the businesses that have commercial kitchens in January 2017.
“By notifying all of the businesses beforehand, it is hoped that we can minimize the number of complaints to council and staff when we step up enforcement.”
The report adds that over the past several years, numerous sections of the village sewer system have required maintenance from a third party service in order to prevent a “catastrophic backup of sewer.”
Failing to maintain the sewer lines in a satisfactory state could lead to a backup of sewage affecting not only the offending businesses, but also any other businesses, or residences upstream from the clog.
“In the case of a total obstruction, sewer could back up into any business or home upstream of the clog, resulting in raw sewage entering the property, causing large amounts of damage and exposing the village to possible legal action.”