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PLUMBING

Toilets

B y Ba rry Orr

are not garbage cans!

G

arbage and wastewater don’t belong together, but that doesn’t stop consumers from making poor decisions when it comes to what they choose to flush down the toilet, or down the drains in their homes and businesses. A trip to a waste water treatment facility will attest to the number of homeowners and businesses that have had everything from pan drippings from a turkey dinner to baby wipes and even syringes go down their drains. Historically in my home city of London, Ont., around 40 per cent of sewer clogs can be traced to the disposal of fats, oils and grease (FOGs) into the drainage systems leading to the municipal sewage system. This can lead to emergency calls and raw sewage overflows. Our city’s sewer-use bylaws state that animal and vegetable oil must not exceed 100 mg/l in wastewater discharged into the municipal collection system. Storm drains have a permitted level of 15 mg/l. The city can charge individual and corporate violators $10,000 to $100,000, with fines varying based on first or repeated offences. This type of bylaw is quite common to municipalities in Ontario. Seeing the volume of clogs, and desiring to do something about it, we (City of London) started investigating compliance with our sewer use bylaw Barry Orr is the sewer outreach and control inspector with the Environmental & Engineering Services department at the City of London. He can be reached at borr@london.ca.

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“Your Turn” The City of London and the London Fire Department have jointly developed a degradable cup that homeowners can use for proper disposal of fats, oils and grease. More than 75,000 cups have been distributed, and the collection program is making an impact. About a quarter of all cups are returned to one of four depots, where they are used for clean energy power production. Residents can also dispose the full FOG cups in their garbage.