Don't pour FOG down the drain! Destin Water Users starts educational campaign

Savannah Vasquez
Destin Water Users urges customers to keep fats, oils and grease out of the area's water system.

There’s a new program underway to help keep Destin’s wastewater and sewer pipes clean and clear and it has a catchy name; FOG.

FOG stands for fats, oils and grease and Destin Water Users started this new campaign to educate the public and implement ways to keep these harmful elements out of the area’s water system.

“Fats, oils and grease get into the sewer system and they can block up lines,” said DWU General Manager Lockwood Wernet. “If we get too much in our system it can impact our water treatment capacity.”

Wernet said that the program began three months ago following a spike in fats, oils and grease showing up in Destin’s sewage system.

“We’ve seen an increase in the amount of grease that comes into the treatment plant,” he said. “What we are seeing is sewer back ups. We’ve been lucky and not seen overflows but we are concerned that people are not properly maintaining their grease traps or that customers are not properly disposing of oils.”

To address the problem, DWU started a social media campaign with an easy to remember formula.

With a football field diagraph the formula reads; “The sink should never be the end zone for fats, oils or grease. Contain, freeze and toss.”

Another DWU advertisement advises placing FOG into jars, cans and plastic tubs and allowing it to solidify before throwing it into the trash can. Both methods will help eliminate pipe buildup and prevent contaminated water.

Besides the daily Facebook posts, DWU has also started inspecting local restaurants to check the condition of commercial grease traps.

“We’ve implemented a program in our food industry, reaching out to those restaurants and food facilities and scheduling inspections and looking at if they have grease traps on property and if they are working properly,” said Wernet.

Some restaurants within DWU’s service area include Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli, The Shrimp Basket and Golden Corral.

Wernet explained that a commercial grease trap is supposed to be set up on a separate sewer line and works by separating the grease from the water before sending it to the treatment plant.

“As water with the grease is flowing, the water settles out but the grease floats,” he said. “Then when it is full, someone from DWU comes and pumps the grease out.”

DWU plans to work with more than 100 local restaurants to help maintain and improve grease traps in the coming months, and will continue social media announcements to get the word out to residential customers.

“We haven’t seen a real significant change yet, but the business community has been very receptive,” said Wernet. “In going out and visiting the restaurants with the inspections, we expect we will see improvements.”