City of Palm Bay Utilities Working To Reduce Pollution
By Karyn Barber , The City of Palm Bay // January 31, 2015
Never pour fats, oils or grease down the drain
BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – The City of Palm Bay Utilities (PBUD) invites the residents of Palm Bay to join them in their efforts to make pollution prevention a top priority in 2015.
Nationally, millions of gallons of wastewater are discharged in the environment each year as a result of aging sewer system infrastructure.
In an effort to prevent wastewater discharges and pollution in Palm Bay, PBUD is launching two campaigns promoting best practices to educate the public about the importance of protecting the city’s sanitary sewer system.
Additionally, the utilities department is taking an active approach in identifying areas where water infiltration and inflow (I&I) is occurring within its wastewater system – putting in place a plan for future changes.
As part of regular maintenance, Palm Bay Utilities conducts periodic smoke tests in areas of the sewer system that experience a higher than normal volume of water.
Smoke testing involves a non-toxic smoke that is pushed into the sewer system, which allows crews to monitor where the smoke escapes, helping them locate cracks, leaks and other issues.
IMPORTANCE OF SEWER CLEAN-OUT CAPS
A common issue found during smoke testing is damaged or missing sewer clean-out caps. The sewer clean-out serves as the access point to the sewer system for necessary cleaning and maintenance and is located 3-5 feet from the home or building.
Excess stormwater through damaged or missing caps puts unnecessary stress on the sewer collection system and treatment plants, causing expensive sewer back-ups and overflows.
“Many citizens are unaware that it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the sewer clean-outs,” explained Wastewater Collections Superintendent, David Bryant.
Customers who find that their clean-out is in need of repair can purchase parts at their local hardware store.
Another issue that is cause for concern and can lead to poor sewer health is the buildup of fats, oils and grease (FOG) in the sewer system.
Common food by-products like cooking oil and bacon grease will congeal onto the surface of pipes and other equipment, reducing the pipe’s capacity.
Restaurants and other grease-producing establishments can be major contributors if they are not abiding by city ordinances and regulations.
Sewer overflows caused by FOG mean environmental health hazards and property damage leading to increased maintenance costs and higher sewer bills for customers.
In addition to asking for assistance from the citizens of Palm Bay when it comes to its sewer system collection and treatment, the Utilities Department is working with its engineering consultants to review its entire wastewater system.
The review will include looking at past historical data and studying the current water flow and infiltration into the sewer system and the wastewater treatment plant.
“This information will help us determine where to focus larger efforts for repair and improvement,” said Utilities Director Dan Roberts.
Reducing the I&I into the city’s sewer system and wastewater treatment plant will help prevent overflows and discharges and also provide increased capacity.
Additional ways residents, businesses can help protect Palm Bay’s sewer system:
• Property owners should locate their home’s sewer clean-outs to avoid damaging them.
• Avoid burying the sewer-cleanout or damaging it with lawn equipment.
• Avoid planting trees near sewer lines as roots may penetrate the line and cause a backup.
• Make repairs to the sewer clean-out if any damage has occurred or it is no longer sealed.
• Do not allow stormwater to drain directly into the sewer.
• Never pour fats, oils, or grease (FOG) down the drain.
• Scrape food items like fatty meats, cheese, salad dressings, gravies etc. into the trash can.
• Soak up remaining oils and grease with an absorbent material such as a paper towel and then place it into the trash can.
• Use baskets or strainers in the sink to keep additional food scraps and other items from going down the drain.
• Residents who experience a backup or overflow on their property should contact the City of Palm Bay Utilities Department.