The Killeen City Council unanimously agreed this week to consider a proposal that would change the way Killeen measures the amount of grease restaurants put into the city’s sewer system.
Adopting the planned amendments to the city’s controversial Fats, Oils and Grease Ordinance would likely result in lower fines for local restaurant owners, who have been vocal on the issue in recent months.
The proposed amendment would not change the flow of grease in the sewer system, which has caused expensive problems to the city’s south wastewater treatment plant.
In 2009, the city was forced to pay $900,000 to Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, the city’s wastewater treatment provider, for damage caused by sewer grease.
The FOG ordinance requires restaurant owners to maintain a grease trap — a device that removes grease from wastewater — and to keep the grease they put into the sewer to within a prescribed amount.
As requested by local restaurant owners, the council suggested the city begin testing the wastewater at the property line rather than the grease trap, where the water is not diluted by other wastewater from the building.
“It seems to me that if we are going to measure what businesses are putting out, we ought to measure it where the restaurant is putting it out,” Mayor Dan Corbin said at Tuesday’s council workshop.
Corbin also suggested Tuesday that the restaurants pay for the installation of new sampling portals at their property lines, if they prefer testing at the property line.
Council also requested that staff place all of the city’s restaurants into the FOG testing database; however, a clear plan was not developed to expand the program during the meeting.
In December, the city said it tests 255 of the more than 400 grease traps in Killeen, a fact that irritated some restaurants, which pay more than $60,000 a year in FOG surcharges.
“We feel that this is an unfair and unjust program,” said Dwayne Castaño, who operates several Taco Bell restaurants in Killeen.
When asked why more of the restaurants were not entered into the database, Kana said the department does not have the resources to expand the program more quickly.