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Stress Testing Universally Held Understandings in Pretreatment

Stokes Law

Testing your assumptions is always good as a pretreatment professional because so many variables impact your job. New technology and data can compel you to change some of your longest-held beliefs. 

Is it possible to assume there are universally held “technical understandings” that solve nearly all fats/oils/grease issues?  Are there other universally held “technical understandings” that are expected to solve TSS, BOD, pH, and other pretreatment/collection system issues?  How did these “universally held technical understandings” come about and why are they still the tail that wags the proverbial dog?

This post questions a few of these universally long-held “technical understandings.”

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How to Exert the Maximum Influence in FOG Compliance

In the late 1980s, The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) provided a great example of how to maximize control when it carried out one of the most effective Pretreatment programs I've seen in my career. It had to implement an audacious pretreatment program to reduce downstream wastewater treatment plant loadings sufficient to meet the EPA’s first Marine Estuary Guidelines. The NBC was in a tough spot.

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3-Legged Stool Approach To Total Grease Management

3-Legged Stool Approach To Total Grease Management

Pretreatment’s Three-Legged Stool



A simple, yet effective way to explain on-site pretreatment is to use a three-legged stool analogy.

A three-legged stool works only when all three legs are the same length and angle and have the same strong attachment to the stool seat. If any leg is shorter, at a different angle, or loosely connected to the seat, the stool is unstable.

The same is true for onsite pretreatment. A food service establishment (FSE) may have

Leg 1: The right grease separator and
Leg 2: Good servicing (pumping frequency and quality)

But if it has poor internal management practices (Leg 3), the FSE will send higher than allowed waste into the sewer system.

Likewise, a site skimping on pumping (Leg 2) will handicap its proper technology (Leg 1) and best management practices (Leg 3). Upcoming blog posts delve into practical information for each of these legs. We begin with Best Management Practices 101.

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THIS COLUMN COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

Long periods of inactivity hurt seals, fuel systems, and moving parts of most mechanical systems. That’s why many automobiles don’t like it.  Gas-powered lawn mowers and string trimmers don’t like it. Grease separators don’t like it either. 

 

The inactivity caused by pandemic shutdowns can make some grease interceptors more hazardous to your health. Let’s find out why by taking a closer look at what happens in separators with little or no input flows.

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It’s About Survival: How One of Asheboro’s Most Popular Gathering Places Is Handling the Pandemic

Since the pandemic began, Four Saints Brewing Company has been one of the most visible small businesses in our home base of Asheboro, NC. It has hosted virtual concerts, partnered with a food truck, and stepped up its social media presence to soften the blows it’s taken from state-mandated restrictions and shutdowns. 

 

Along the way, owner and CEO Joel McClosky has discovered his taproom’s unofficial status as the town’s “third place” has been both a blessing and a curse in the COVID era. 

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About Grease Separator Testing Methods:  North American and European Standards

Did you know the North American and European testing standards for certifying grease separators have nothing in common literally?

One is predominately a performance standard, a batch flow test simulating kitchen sink discharge. The other is mostly a design standard, a continuous flow test simulating floor drains receiving oily water flows. 

Both tests become more difficult to pass with higher flow rates. As a manufacturer, we respect the local codes and standards.  It is why we test our products to all applicable standards.

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A Two-Pronged Approach to Pretreatment Saved Lawrence & Memorial Hospital Thousands

Lawrence & Memorial HospitalHospitals and other health care facilities often operate extensive commercial kitchens. But unlike restaurants, hotels and other foodservice establishments, hospitals face additional cost-control, sanitation and operational challenges.

They have one or more commercial kitchens that may feed effluent into plumbing systems that run for hundreds or thousands of feet before exiting the building. 

Hospitals also operate on a 24/7 basis, requiring them to keep downtime to a minimum. They don’t close for holidays, and their kitchens must keep operating matter what.

These factors mean that hospitals face unique pretreatment challenges. Facility managers and engineers must carefully consider their pretreatment technology, or risk high-cost repairs and even breakdowns that could threaten the health of patients and workers.

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The Curious Case of the Smelly Blob

I’m not fond of unsolved mysteries. When a service contractor stumped us with a problem in the late 1990s, the issue nagged at me.

The contractor told us about gelatinous masses building up in a handful of grease separators. The masses smelled terrible, he said, and the separators had surprisingly low water input flows.

We tried figuring out what the gel was. We ran tests in our lab. We looked online. We consulted wastewater treatment professionals and scientists. We couldn’t come up with anything.

Whenever I thought about the gel, I kept picturing the monster from the 1958 cinematic classic, The Blob.

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