Town continues to address grease in sewers

SOUTHWICK – On February 5, town of Southwick officials had a meeting to discuss a grease problem that been occurring in the sewer systems in town.

DPW Director Randy Brown and Board of Health Director Tom FitzGerald are working with Woodard and Curran, an engineering firm out of Enfield, Conn. to get an MIIA (Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association) grant of nearly $8,000. Every year, the town of Southwick gets a chance to apply for grant funds for various risk management programs.

Southwick DPW workers took a picture of the grease blockage that was in a sewer near the southern part of Berkshire Ave. (Photo courtesy of Southwick DPW)

The grant has two phases, with the first phase being an overview of Southwick’s current FOG (Fat, Oils, and Greases) program. During the first phase, Woodard and Curran will be working with the town, giving them advice and showing them what they’ve done with other towns in the past.

The second phase centers on establishing formal procedures for managing fats, oils, and grease from food establishments.

“This is for the good of the community and the sewer system,” said FitzGerald.

In mid-January, FitzGerald sent out emails to more than 20 restaurants in Southwick who are hooked up to sewers. According to DPW Director Randy Brown, members of the DPW were out near the southern part of Berkshire Ave about a month ago, doing a different task when they discovered that there was a grease blockage in that sewer line.

“Luckily, we were able to locate it and clean it out, but if there was ever a complete blockage it could impact all of the customers that are up stream,” said Brown.

That particular sewer line involves the Southern section of Berkshire Ave and the neighborhoods surrounding South Pond on Congamond Lake. Brown said up to 200 sewer customers would be affected if the grease became more of an issue.

A year before this incident, workers were at that same location, checked the sewers for grease and found no signs of it.

Brown is hopeful that the MIIA FOG grant can help the town address this issue.

“There’s a potential for a very severe blockage due to a buildup of grease in the sewer system,” said Brown. “We need to address where it’s coming from.”

In the meeting on Monday, FitzGerald also discussed the possibility of tweaking the Town of Southwick’s grease regulations that were adopted most recently in 2009. In the regulations, it states, “All commercial businesses that have licenses issued by the Board of Health for the purposes of preparing and/or serving food, shall be required to have a grease trap sized by the agent, sized by plumbing or other applicable codes.”

The current regulation requires that establishments get their sewers pumped four times a year. Instead, FitzGerald would like to have the establishments get inspected four times year.

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