Grease Management

1. What is the Grease Management Program?

Fats, Oils, and Grease are viscous substances which have caused obstruction to the flow in a sewer and interfere with the proper operation of Easton’s wastewater treatment facility. Blockages of the sewer lines lead to untreated wastewaters entering the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and the homes and properties of the residents of Easton. The Grease Management Program establishes uniform maintenance and monitoring requirements for controlling the discharge of grease from food service facilities discharging into the Town's treatment works. The objectives of this program are:

  • To prevent the introduction of excessive amounts of grease into Easton’s treatment works
  • To prevent clogging or blocking of the Town’s sewer lines due to grease build-up causing sanitary sewer overflows onto streets, into storm water systems or waterways and into residences and commercial buildings, resulting in potential liability to the Town.
  • To prevent maintenance and odor problems at wastewater pumping stations due to grease build-up.
  • To implement a process to recover costs for any liability incurred by the Town for damage caused by grease blockages resulting in sanitary sewer overflows.

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2. What should I do as a home owner?

Residents can help prevent pipe blockages and sewer overflows by keeping grease out of the sewer system. Sewer backups can cause damage to homes, health hazards and threaten the environment. Sewer pipes blocked by grease are an increasingly common cause of overflows. Read the following items and in particular the Do’s and Don’ts. Where does grease come from? Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG’s) are a natural consequence of cooking and can also occur naturally in many foods. Grease is the common term for animal fats and vegetable oils. It can be found in such items as:

  • Meat fats
  • Lard
  • Butter and margarine
  • Cooking oil
  • Shortening
  • Food scraps
  • Baking goods

What are the grease issues?

Grease is frequently poured down the sink drain because the warm oils are liquid and can be poured. It may not appear to be harmful but as the liquid cools, the grease solidifies and causes buildup inside the pipes, becoming a hardened mass. The buildup restricts the flow of sewage and clogs the pipes. The implications can be:

  • Raw sewage backing up into your home
  • A call for a plumber
  • An unpleasant and expensive cleanup at your expense
  • Raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards and streets
  • Potential contact with disease-causing organisms
  • Increased cost for your Wastewater department which may result in higher sewer bills for customers

The easiest thing you can do is keep grease out of the sewer system in the first place.

  • Never pour grease down the sink or into the toilet
  • Do not put food scraps down the garbage disposal. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain
  • Use a strainer in the sink to catch food scraps and other solids
  • Easton Utilities recommends allowing your hot oils, sauces, and gravies to cool before scraping into a plastic bag and then disposing of in your trash can.

What does a sewer overflow look like?

sewer overflow

Who should I call if I see a sewer overflow?

Call us first. We are a 24/7 operation with staff on duty at all times. If you have a back up on your property or see an overflow occurring in your area please call us. Our emergency number is 410-822-6110. We will dispatch a team to the problem area who will make a determination as to the source of the problem. If there is a back-up or clogged line in our pipes, we’ll fix the problem and it won’t cost you a dime. If the back up or overflow is due to a problem in your pipes we will let you know.

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3. What should I do as a business owner?

Restaurants, large buildings (such as apartment complexes), and other commercial establishments should have grease traps or interceptors that keep grease out of the sewer system. For a grease trap or interceptor to work correctly, it must be properly:

  • Designed (sized and manufactured to handle the amount that is expected)
  • Installed (level, vented, etc.)
  • Maintained (cleaned and serviced on a frequent basis)

Solids should never be put into grease traps or interceptors. Routine, often daily, maintenance of grease traps and interceptors is needed to ensure that they properly reduce or prevent blockages.

Be cautious of chemicals and additives (including soaps and detergents) that claim to dissolve grease. Some of these additives simply pass grease down pipes where it can clog the sewer lines in another area.

Businesses generate the most grease on a daily basis. If you have a business that prepares meals you should follow the do’s and don’ts AND review “Calculating Grease Trap Size.” Restaurants are required to have grease traps, interceptors, or grease recovery devices to limit the amount of grease exiting the establishment to 150mg/l.

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4. Do’s and Don’ts

Put oils and grease in an empty soup can or other collection container. Put the container in the trash to dispose of it. Pour oil and grease down the drains. While they may be liquid when you pour them, they will quickly solidify in the sewage system.
Remove oil and grease from kitchen utensils, equipment, and food preparation areas with scrapers or towels Wash fryers/griddles, pots/pans and plates with water until oil and grease are removed.
Keep grease out of wash water Use hot water to rinse grease off surfaces
Place food scraps in collection containers. Put food scraps down drains. Don’t use the garbage disposal for grinding up large food scraps. The disposal should be used for those pieces of food that may be too small to pickup.

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5. Frequently Ask Questions about the Grease Management Program

Q: How much will it cost me if my establishment fails inspection and needs to be re-inspected?

A: The re-inspection schedule is listed under the Building Department –Inspections and Certificates in the Town of Easton Resolution 5929 or its current replacement.

Q: What happens if I am in noncompliance and choose to do nothing?

A: Easton Utilities could terminate water and wastewater service to your establishment.

Q: What size Grease trap do I need for my establishment?

A: See “Calculate Grease Trap Size” The Plumbing and Drainage Institute has an excellent video at

Q: What type of grease trap or grease interceptor will satisfy requirements for the Grease Management Program?

A: Easton Utilities cannot advocate a brand name. Grease traps and recovery units are made by several different companies. Grease Traps or Interceptors that are approved by the Plumbing and Drainage Institute ( are required.

Q: What will a grease trap cost my business?

A: The average install for a small grease trap (0-100 gallons) is between $250 and $1500. The average cost for the installation of a new grease trap (750-1500) is between $4,000 and $8,500. Grease recovery devices cost between $3,500 and $6,000.

Q: How often should a grease interceptor be pumped out?

A: Each facility shall have its grease interceptor pumped according to the following criteria.

  • When the settled solids layer exceeds the invert of the outlet pipe (typically eight inches in depth), or;
  • When the total volume of captured grease and solid materials displaces more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the capacity of the interceptor, or;
  • When the interceptor is not retaining or capturing oils and greases.

Q: How often should a grease trap be pumped out and who will pay for it?

A: Each facility shall be solely responsible for the cost of grease trap cleaning, and maintenance. Each facility may contract with a grease hauler or it may develop a written protocol and perform its own grease trap cleaning and maintenance procedures. Cleaning and maintenance must be performed when the total volume of captured grease and solid material displaces more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total volume of the grease trap. Each facility shall determine the frequency at which their grease trap shall be cleaned, but all grease traps shall be opened and inspected, at a minimum of once per week.

Q: How often will my grease interceptor or grease trap be inspected by a Easton Utilities?

A: It will be inspected as necessary to assure compliance with the Grease Management Program.

Q: What are suggestions for how to comply with the Grease Management Program

A: You have several options:

  • Examine your process to verify the staff is taking steps to keep the grease out of the water.
  • Increasing the frequency of the service from a grease hauler
  • Increasing the size of the existing grease trap and/or interceptors service unit.
  • Replacing the existing grease traps and/or interceptors unit.
  • Utilization of alternative technology to achieve compliance.
  • Installing multiple grease traps and/or interceptors to achieve compliance.

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6. Fat-Free Sewers

Sewer overflows and backups can cause health hazards, damage home interiors, and threaten the environment. An increasingly common cause of overflows is sewer pipes blocked by grease. Grease gets into the sewer from household drains as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.

Where does the grease come from?

Most of us know grease as the byproduct of cooking. Grease is found in such things as:

  • Meat fats
  • Lard
  • Cooking oil
  • Shortening
  • Butter and margarine
  • Food scraps
  • Baking goods
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products

Too often, grease is washed into the plumbing system, usually through the kitchen sink. Grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes (both on your property and in the streets). Over time, the grease can build up and block the entire pipe.

Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. These units only shred solid material into smaller pieces and do not prevent grease from going down the drain. Commercial additives, including detergents, that claim to dissolve grease may pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.

The results can be:

  • Raw sewage overflowing in your home or your neighbor's home
  • An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner
  • Raw sewage overflowing into parks, yards, and streets
  • Potential contact with disease-causing organisms
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs for local sewer departments, which causes higher sewer bills for customers.

What we can do to help?

The easiest way to solve the grease problem and help prevent overflows of raw sewage is to keep this material out of the sewer system in the first place.

There are several ways to do this.

  1. Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets
  2. Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, and grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal (or recycling where available).
  3. Do not put grease down garbage disposals. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the drain baskets/strainers into the trash for disposal.
  4. Speak with your friends and neighbors about the problem of grease in the sewer system and how to keep it out. Call your local sewer system authority if you have any questions.

How to Properly Clean your Grease Trap?

grease trap

You'll need the following before you begin:

  1. Large Trash Can
  2. 2 or 3 trash can liners (garbage bags
  3. Oil dry (purchase at an auto supply store)
  4. Proper tools to open trap
  5. Tools for removing contents (scoop and scraper)
  6. Paper Towels
  7. Rubber gloves

Let's begin:

  1. Prepare your work area
  2. Put the trash can liners into the trash can
  3. Add some oil dry (this will soak up the water and liquid and make transportation of the waste cleaner and safer)

Dig in:

  1. Remove the lid
  2. Observe the manner in which the internal parts are installed because you'll have to reinstall it properly when you finish cleaning the trap. Missing or mal-aligned internal parts will cause discharges that are in violation of the allowable limits of the Town Code.
  3. Examine the gasket for damage - never use tube silicone as a gasket.
  4. If the gasket is falling into the trap, clean and reattach it to the trap
  5. Begin dipping (or vacuuming) the waste from the trap.
  6. Remove all contents until unit is empty.
  7. No need to use degreasers or soap and water - no one is eating out of this trap.
  8. Make sure the trap has been properly reassembled (all internal parts are in place).
  9. Tie up the bag of waste (that has the oil dry soaking up the liquid) and place in the garbage (solid waste) dumpster.

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7. What Happens After the Flush?

“Out of sight, out of mind" is the attitude most of us have when it comes to flushing the toilet, running the dishwasher or popping the bathtub drain. But all that dirty water leaving your residence is called "wastewater" which has to end up somewhere. That "somewhere" is in the Easton sewer system and the Easton Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The WWTF runs the wastewater through a process that progressively removes solids, dissolved solids and harmful pathogens. By the time the water is released into the bay, it has spent 8 to 16 hours in the facility and is clean enough to be used for spray irrigation and provide a daily source of clean, fresh water to the Choptank River- an average of 2 million gallons per day.

Before the wastewater arrives at the treatment plant it first must travel through the pipes connected to your home, apartment, business, etc., via gravity to our collections system pipes. From our collection system pipes it enters pumping stations that "pump" the water to the next point along the way. If there are no blockages in the pipes this wastewater reaches the treatment plant.

Sewer backups can cause damage to homes, health hazards and threaten the environment. Sewer pipes blocked by grease are an increasing common cause of overflows.

What is the problem and how am I affected?

Sometimes there are blockages in the collection system pipes or pump stations. These blockages may cause sewage overflows and back-ups in your home, your neighbor’s home, our waterways, on public property and just about wherever water can find a way out.

Some of these sewer overflows and back-ups occur because of system failures. Our infrastructure is old, pipes can collapse or break! More often than not these blockages can be attributed to improper disposal of personal items, such as diapers, feminine hygiene products, grease and fat from cooking, articles of clothing, bedding materials, towels, and rags into the sewer system. Everything you flush down your toilet, grind up in your garbage disposal and pour in your drains ends up at the treatment plant (albeit, not in its original form).

For instance, suppose you accidentally flush a washcloth down your toilet. If it doesn’t clog your system and manages to move through your pipes it eventually ends up at the pumping station where it has joined hundreds of other rags, diapers, toys, plastic applicators, and other items that clog up the pumps and prevent them from working properly. In the past, the best case scenario – a pump station technician is able to remove the pump from service, clear the blockage, reassemble, prime the pump and then return it to service. Worst case scenario – the pump has been trying to run and is damaged. This leads to costly repairs, a pump station minus a pump that must be monitored more closely to prevent sewer overflows or back-ups from occurring, added stress on our wastewater system and increases our operating costs. To minimize the impact on the pumps we’ve installed grinders which grind up the material before it gets to the pumps. This has added to the expense of the system because the grinders need repair.

How much trash really ends up in the system?

We have equipment that catches and removes the majority of unwanted, larger items (non-waste) from the wastewater. These removed items are deposited into dumpsters. We empty our dumpster twice a month. These dumpsters measure 4 cubic yards, and 4 cubic yards = 108 cubic feet:

  • 2 dumpsters X 108 cubic feet = 216 cubic feet
  • 1 - 50 gallon trash can = 6.5 cubic feet
  • 16 cubic feet divided by 6.5 cubic feet = 33 trash cans a month. That’s a lot of garbage and none of it belongs in the sewer system!

Our sewer system is not designed to collect trash. Human waste and toilet tissue are the only products the wastewater system was designed to handle. As a ratepayer of Easton Utilities this affects you because continued use of our sewer system as a trash can contributes to system failures, added stress and wear, and increased operation and maintenance costs.

How can you help:

We can all help maintain our infrastructure by adopting a few simple practices:

Please do not flush:

  • Diapers
  • Used bandages
  • Rags
  • Dental floss
  • Cotton balls/Q-tips
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Toys
  • Paper towels
  • Toothbrushes
  • Baby/Cleaning wipes
  • Leftover foods/sauces
  • Articles of clothing/bedding
  • Unused prescription drugs – return them to the pharmacy for proper disposal

Please do not pour down drains:

  • Grease, all used cooking oils, and leftover sauces and gravies (allow to cool and solidify, then scrape out and wrap in newspaper and dispose of in your trash can or allow to cool and then pour into a non-recyclable container and dispose of in your trash can)
  • Household/gardening chemicals
  • Paint
  • Engine oil
  • Leftover cleaners/solvents
  • Unused prescription drugs– return them to the pharmacy for proper disposal

With everyone’s help Easton Utilities can limit the number of sewer overflows and back-ups due to blockages in the system thereby eliminating the need for costly clean-ups and possible contamination of our waterways and endangerment of public health.

If you would like more information, a tour of the city’s treatment facility, or need a speaker for your next group meeting, please contact us at 410-763-9446. Remember, prevention is the key. Keep your pipes and drains “fat-free”.

Much of this information is from a booklet that was prepared under Cooperative Agreement Assistance #CX824505-01-0 between the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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8. Calculate Grease Trap Size


Sizing Formula for Restaurants
Effective capacity of grease interceptor in gallons = S x GS x (HR /12) x LF
S= Number of seats in the dining area
GS = Gallons of waste per seat (according to Tariff this is 25 gallons)
HR = Number of hours the restaurant is open
LF = Loading Factor (use 2.00 for business along RT 50 and the Parkway, 1.25 for business in recreational areas, 1.00 for all others)

Sizing Formula for Other Establishments with Commercial Kitchens
Effective capacity of grease interceptor in gallons = M x GM x LF
M = Meals prepared per day
GM = Gallons of waste per meal (Use 5 gallons)
LF = Loading Factor (Use 1.00 with dishwashing machine and 0.75 without dishwashing machine)

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9. Grease Interceptor

Grease interceptor means an interceptor whose rated flow exceeds 50 gpm or has a minimum storage capacity of 750 gallons or more and is a device located underground and outside of a facility. It is designed to collect, contain or remove food wastes or grease from the wastewater while allowing the balance of the liquid waste to discharge to the wastewater collection system by gravity.

If the grease is not removed periodically, the grease will work itself into the sewer system. Once grease enters the drain lines, it will clog and cause failure and a possible overflow.

If the grease is not removed periodically, the grease will work itself into the sewer system. Once grease enters the drain lines, it will clog and cause failure and a possible overflow.

grease interceptor

10. Grease Trap

A grease trap is an interceptor whose rated flow is 20gpm or less and is a device located inside a facility and/or under a sink designed to collect, contain, or remove food wastes and grease from the wastewater while allowing the balance of the liquid waste to discharge to the wastewater collection system by gravity.
Grease traps are typically found in commercial locations that cook large amounts of food, such as restaurants, hospitals, schools and institutions.


grease trap
  1. Flow from kitchen fixtures enters the grease trap.
  2. An approved flow control or restricting device is installed to restrict the flow to the grease trap to the rated capacity of the trap.
  3. An air intake valve allows air into the open space of the grease trap to prevent siphonage and back-pressure.
  4. The baffles help to retain grease toward the upstream end of the grease trap since grease floats and will generally not go under the baffles. This helps to prevent grease from leaving the grease trap and moving further downstream where it can cause blockage problems.
  5. Solids in the wastewater that do not float will be deposited on the bottom of the grease trap and will need to be removed during routine grease trap cleaning.
  6. Oil and grease floats on the water surface and accumulates behind the baffles. The oil and grease will be removed during routine grease trap cleaning.
  7. Air relief is provided to maintain proper air circulation within the grease trap.
  8. Some grease traps have a sample point at the outlet end of the trap to sample the quality of the grease trap effluent.
  9. A cleanout is provided at the outlet or just downstream of the outlet to provide access into the pipe to remove any blockages.
  10. The water exits the grease trap through the outlet pipe and continues on to the grease interceptor or to the sanitary sewer system.

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