JASPER, Tenn. -- City administrators have approved new language to be added to an existing ordinance that regulates the discharge of fats, oils and grease into the sewer system.
Officials said they are adding the rules to Jasper's existing law, known as the FOG ordinance, so they can create a more stringent policy and comply with new state regulations.
The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently unanimously approved the modifications to its existing ordinance.
"We've already got an ordinance in place," Mayor Billy Simpson said. "This is a recommended change from our engineering firm to add this [new language] to our current ordinance instead of creating a completely new one."
Gary Cosby of CTI Engineers Inc. said the Municipal Technical Advisory Service has drafted a separate ordinance for the needed changes, but Jasper already has provisions for them in its existing ordinance.
"The bottom line is [these new rules] require food service establishments to have proper grease traps, and clean them out so that we don't clog up the sewers and don't have overflow as a result," Cosby said.
The updated ordinance also will help put Jasper "in line" with the most recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation rules, he said.
Since the changes in the language of the ordinance are a "major modification of [Jasper's] pretreatment program," TDEC will have to approve it, Cosby said.
When that happens, a 30-day public notice will be required before the ordinance officially can be adopted by the board, officials said.
Several establishments including the Western Sizzlin Steak and More Restaurant on state Highway 28 and the Marion County Justice Center caused the problems with oil and grease discharge into the city's sewer system in the past, officials said.
Cosby said the city could face penalties from the state if a major problem such as overflow occurred due to violations of the FOG ordinance.
"The whole idea is to prevent grease blockages of the sewer, and that's something [Jasper] has had periodically," he said. "We hope that we can get compliance [from these and other establishments] without fines or civil penalties."
"From what I've read, it sounds like [these new rules] will answer a lot of the concerns and issues that we're having," Alderman Chip Wampler said. "It's pretty much in laymen's terms what needs to be done."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.