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Grease ordinance will cost some business owners

The city is investing millions of dollars into its sewer improvement project. And under the ordinance, some business owners with kitchens can expect to make new investments, as well.
In an effort to improve the sewer system, the City of Dothan is working to pass a new ordinance that would require some businesses to purchase grease interceptors.
In an effort to improve the sewer system, the City of Dothan is working to pass a new ordinance that would require some businesses to purchase grease interceptors.
Zack Whaley, owner of Zack's Restaurant, says the larger grease interceptors are more effective than smaller ones, as they can be emptied once a month instead of each day.
Zack Whaley, owner of Zack's Restaurant, says the larger grease interceptors are more effective than smaller ones, as they can be emptied once a month instead of each day.
Restaurants use gallons of oil in food preparation, which calls for efficient interception systems to avoid clogging city sewer systems. (Pictured: Serving line at Zack's Restaurant on Headland Ave. in Dothan, AL.)
Restaurants use gallons of oil in food preparation, which calls for efficient interception systems to avoid clogging city sewer systems. (Pictured: Serving line at Zack's Restaurant on Headland Ave. in Dothan, AL.)
The city plans to invest millions of dollars into its sewer improvement project, after receiving an order from the Environmental Protection Agency to fix the sewer system.

City officials say 50% of the sewer damage is from grease blockage.

"Grease sort of does the same thing that plaque does in our arteries.  It builds up over time until it gets to that point that it finally shuts down," said Dothan City Manager Mike West.

As a solution, the city is working on a new ordinance that would require most restaurants, and other businesses, to purchase interceptors, which are designed to reduce the amount of oil and grease entering the sewer system.

"Water flows downhill, and it will eventually end up in a stream somewhere,” West said.  “And we need to as much as possible ensure that we adequately handle our sewage, clean it up, before it is released into a waterway."

The new requirement will cost some businesses anywhere from $1,500.00 to thousands of dollars.

"I've even heard about one place downtown [where] there's not really any room to put it on their property.  So I don't know what they're going to do about that situation.  There are others around here that have that little 35-50 gallon under the sink type,” said Zack’s Family Restaurant owner Zack Whaley.

He says the smaller interceptors don't work well for restaurants his size, so he installed a 1,000 gallon interceptor.

"It's probably one of those necessary evils of doing business.  So, I have no qualms with it,” Whaley said.  "As a matter of fact, if it's going to stop up the city lines, it's much more prevalent to have the interceptors.”

City officials plan to survey all buildings with commercial kitchens over the next 60 days to determine if they meet the required guidelines.

They expect to pass the ordinance within 12 to 18 months.

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