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GREASE AVENGER (SEWER SYSTEM SUPERHERO) APPEARS AND THE COLLECTION SYSTEMS FATS, OIL AND GREASE (“FOG”) CLEARS – A SUCCESSFUL CITY OF LOS ANGELES' FOG CONTROL PUBLIC OUTREACH AND EDUCATION PROGRAM

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Abstract:

As part of the City of Los Angeles efforts to reduce sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and as part of the City's CMOM program, the City has implemented an aggressive Fats Oil and Grease (FOG) control program. The FOG program is directed towards reducing SSOs caused by FOG buildup that is one of the two major causes of dry weather overflows besides root intrusion. The City of Los Angeles FOG Control Program is built on the following three pillars: source control through regulation of approximately 10,000 food service establishments in the City, sewer cleaning of known sewer hot-spots that are prone to blockages due to FOG, and community outreach/involvement and education. The FOG Community Involvement and Education Program involved affected stakeholders in the development of an amended FOG ordinance. After months of working with many of the restaurant managers, the California Restaurant Association and other similar major stakeholders with no opposition from the regulated community, the Department of Public Works asked the Los Angeles City Council to approve the ordinance amendments. Stakeholders spoke in support of the proposed changes and the City Council vote was unanimous.

As a result of implementing the education component of the FOG program, that is the teaching of restaurant managers on how to use the FOG best management practices (BMPs) in their operations, the number of grease related sewage spills has been cut by approximately 40 percent in a very short time frame (within two years of implementation). This reduction is critically important for quality of life as well as being a measure of how well the Bureau of Sanitation and the City of Los Angeles serves its residents and customers.

The success of the City's FOG outreach program is substantially due to the use of a superhero character called the “Grease Avenger”, dressed in a costume and mask that give him mysterious anonymity. The Grease Avenger visits parks, beaches, recreational events and even meetings of elected officials to educate the public on the Do's and Don'ts of FOG BMPs. Over 1.5 million Grease Avenger brochures have been mailed and distributed to all properties in the City of Los Angeles.

Community participation has become an essential component of wastewater system management. There has been a nationwide shift in the role of public participation in wastewater system management and operation such that public works managers can no longer work in a vacuum. The role of public participation is expected beyond the required environmental impact reporting process. The community now expects and demands to have a say in the things we do and the projects that impact them. Proactively sharing information with the community on a voluntary basis is no longer a choice. Forums such the WEF's CS2004 Conference offer us, the public works managers, the opportunity to share our successes, failures and lessons learned. Such forums enable us to re-educate and prepare ourselves to actively and effectively involve the community, in the projects that impact their quality of life.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864704784107029

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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