Grease Disposal Program
Food Establishment Wastewater Discharge (FEWD) Program
- Learn how FEWD monitors San Diego's food preparation businesses to help prevent grease-related sewage spills
Working to Keep Our Sewer Lines Free of Cooking Grease
Sewer spills related to cooking grease produced at food preparation facilities, such as restaurants, have decreased since the creation of the City of San Diego's Food Establishment Wastewater Discharge (FEWD) Program in 1989. FEWD is responsible for the permitting and compliance monitoring of food establishments to control the discharge of grease into the wastewater collection system. The program also conducts investigations to determine sources of grease-related sewer main blockages.
All food establishments within the City are required to obtain a permit from FEWD. The permits ensure that the facilities install the appropriate grease-removal equipment designed to trap cooking grease before it enters the wastewater system. In addition to permitting and inspecting food establishments, the FEWD program also performs plan checks for new, remodel and retrofit facilities and undertakes special inspections when a sewer spill caused by grease occurs. If you need to contact FEWD to have a plan check or need more information about grease-removal equipment, call (858) 654-4188.
Grease Interceptors and Grease Traps
More than 5,000 facilities in the City of San Diego are currently permitted by the FEWD Program. Approximately 3,000 of these facilities use what is known as a grease trap. The trap prevents excess grease from getting into the sewer system from existing plumbing lines within facilities. Traps are small and are usually installed inside a facility. Generally, they range in size from 20 gallons per minute (gpm) to 50 gpm.
More than 500 facilities, usually high-volume or new establishments, use grease interceptors which are larger than the traps and are installed underground, outside of a facility. Grease is actually "intercepted" in these concrete tanks before it reaches the City sewer main. Grease interceptors should be accessible by three manhole covers, and a sample box.
Interceptors and traps cause the flow of water to slow down, allowing the grease to naturally float to the top of the tank for easy removal.
Plan Checks and Inspections
- FEWD Plan Check Policy (PDF)
- 2010 CA Plumbing Code Adoption (PDF)
- Gravity Grease Interceptor Sizing (PDF)
All plans for new commercial food establishments (including new construction remodels and retrofits) must receive a plan review from FEWD. The review assures that appropriate grease-removal equipment is installed during construction. Approximately 50 plan checks are performed each month by FEWD.
Shortly after sewer-spills caused by grease are reported, FEWD inspectors investigate facilities within the immediate area. A determination is made as to which commercial facilities contributed to the blockage, and more in-depth inspections are conducted at those facilities. Where appropriate, additional requirements and/or procedures are put in place.
When requirements are made for additional grease-removal equipment, the facility is given a due date to comply. A Notice of Violation, with an administrative fee is issued once a facility has passed its final due date. Administrative hearings, permit revocation, and ultimately, termination of sewer service may occur for those facilities that remain out of compliance.