“The way we handle grease at the [Dillman Road wastewater treatment] plant, it’s actually discharged into a lagoon where it is oxidized in the sun.”
That was city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) director Vic Kelson talking to the Bloomington city council on Wednesday about the grease that about 600 local restaurants clean out of their traps and are allowed to haul to the city’s wastewater treatment plant south of town.
The item on the city council’s agenda was a change to the ordinance on the FOG (fats, oils, and grease) program, which requires restaurants (food service establishments) to use grease traps to keep it from clogging up the city’s sanitary sewer system. The ordinance change was approved unanimously.
After the ordinance change, the program is still in place but gives restaurants a cheaper option in grease retention devices. The revised ordinance also establishes a “preferred pumper program” for haulers to take the grease from the traps, which have to be cleaned out on a regular basis, down to the city’s Dillman road facility.
The preferred pumper program is meant to improve the consistency of the existing arrangement, which allows haulers who service the grease traps of restaurants covered by the FOG program to dispose of the grease at the Dillman Road wastewater treatment plant.
The preferred pumper program requires training, but at no cost. It’s believed that it will improve data reporting and allow CBU to monitor FOG program compliance better.
Council president Steve Volan prodded Kelson to give an example of what can happen if grease is not retained on the premises of a restaurant.
Kelson obliged by describing a restaurant that was downstream from a daycare facility. “About three or four years ago, we had a problem with a restaurant that did not have an interceptor, and it was a restaurant that made quite a lot of grease,” Kelson said. He continued, “And what happened is, the grease plugged up the sewer main and they actually had a backup into the daycare.” Kelson concluded, “We were able to clean it out. But that sort of thing is prevented when we have proper grease retention devices installed.”
The cost to install a larger, concrete grease retention device was pegged by CBU’s assistant director for environmental programs James Hall at $15,000 to $20,000. That’s more than the $12,000 to $15,000 than the new smaller, polymer type would cost, which is now allowed because of the city council’s change to local law. Hall added, “That depends on how much rock you potentially have to bust through.”
The city code requires any new restaurant, or one that undergoes renovation, to add a grease retention device. The cost can be a financial challenge to businesses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During public commentary on the FOG program, director of economic and sustainable development for the city, Alex Crowley, described how a restaurant
that had received a loan through the city’s COVID-19 relief program on the FOG program. That cost could have been mitigated, Crowley said, if the changes to the FOG program had already been enacted.
From Crowley’s department, the city council at its Wednesday meeting also got an update on the status of city’s COVID-19 loan program. It’s funded through food and beverage tax revenue and money from the BUEA (Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association).
Councilmembers were briefed by Jane Kupersmith, who’s the city’s assistant director for small business development in the economic and sustainable development department.
So far, $1,466,600 in food and beverage tax money has been lent out, combined with $294,170 in BUEA money for a total of $1,760,770.
The takeaway from Kupersmith’s presentation was that the loan program is still accepting applications. About $500,000 is left in food and beverage funds from the $2 million appropriation that was approved by the Bloomington city council earlier this summer.
The deadline for a loan application is currently Dec. 1, which is tied to Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s emergency order on the COVID-19 pandemic. That deadline could be extended again.
City of Bloomington Loan Program (as of Oct. 26, 2020)
|Borrower||FAB||BUEA||SUM of Total|
|The Atlas Ballroom||$50,000||$50,000|
|That’s the Rub||$50,000||$50,000|
|Nick’s English Hut INC||$50,000||$50,000|
|My Sports Locker||$50,000||$50,000|
|MJSB LLC. DBA: B-Town Diner||$50,000||$50,000|
|Cardinal Stage Company||$50,000||$50,000|
|Baked of Bloomington||$50,000||$50,000|
|Back Door Bloomington LLC DBA The Back Door||$50,000||$50,000|
|Qaisir Oriental Rugs||$40,000||$40,000|
|Penguin Enterprises LLC dba The Chocolate Moose||$40,000||$40,000|
|Cup & Kettle Tea||$35,000||$35,000|
|PopKorn Kernals With A Twist||$30,000||$30,000|
Big Time Trading
Big Brothers Big Sisters
|The Art Venue||$22,000||$22,000|
|Bloomington Playwrights Project||$20,000||$20,000|
Bloomington Massage & Bodyworks
|Dat’s Cajun Food & Btown Gyros||$16,000||$16,000|
|The Ritz Hair Studio||$15,000||$15,000|
|K&P Global DBA O’Child Children Boutique||$15,000||$15,000|
|inBloom Eats & Juice||$15,000||$15,000|
|By Hand Gallery||$15,000||$15,000|
Btown Beauty Supply and Salon
|Cherry Canary Vintage||$12,500||$12,500|
|Red Tire Taxi||$12,000||$12,000|
|Wild Orchid Fitness & Dance||$10,000||$10,000|
|Bloomington Salt Cave||$10,000||$10,000|
Bloomington Pets Alive
|Fraternal Order of Eagles||$7,000||$7,000|
Balance Lifestyle Services
Sew Secret Tailoring
|A.E.A Design & Apparel||$3,600||$3,600|