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Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) can cause many problems in sanitary sewer lines. Since they build up on the sides of pipes, they cause sewer blockages, sanitary sewer backups into homes or businesses and overflows into the environment.

Because the cost of increased maintenance on the sewer lines to prevent blockages is high, let's minimize FOGs in our sewer system together.

Read the FOGs FAQs and best management practices for more information.

Be a good neighbour. Keep FOG's out of your drains.

​This program is for any establishment that serves or prepares food where FOGs may be introduced to the sanitary sewer system. This includes facilities like restaurants, cafes, lunch counters, cafeterias, bars, hotels, hospital, factory or school kitchens.

​Town of Canmore Bylaw

Look for "Sewerage Use Bylaw 2015 18 Consolidated 2017"



Frequently Asked Questions

What are FOGs?

​FOG is short for fats, oils and grease. FOG is found in foods such as meats, sauces, salad dressings, foods cooked in deep fryers, cookies, pastries, cheese, butter and many more.

Is grease a problem?

In the sewage collection and treatment business, grease is a serious problem because of its poor solubility in water and its tendency to separate from the water and adhere to other surfaces.

Fats, oils and grease coat the insides of sewer pipes, causing maintenance problems. This blocks pipes, reducing sewer capacity, which in turn leads to sewage backups into property and sanitary sewer overflows to the environment.

Oil and grease also hamper effective treatment at the wastewater treatment plant. Grease in a warm liquid may not appear harmful. But, as the liquid cools, the grease or fat congeals and causes mats to form on the surface of settling tanks, digesters and the interior of pipes and other surfaces. This can cause a shutdown of wastewater treatment processes.

Problems caused by wastes from restaurants and other grease-producing establishments form the basis for regulations like requiring a grease interceptor to control FOG discharges. Learn more about how to properly dispose of FOGs for your home or business.

What's a grease trap and how does it work?

A grease trap is a small reservoir built into the wastewater piping a short distance from the grease producing area (typically the kitchen area). It's designed to remove fats, oils, and grease and prevent them from entering the sanitary sewer system. Baffles in the grease trap reservoir hold the wastewater long enough for the grease to congeal and rise to the surface. The grease can then be removed and disposed of properly.

What's a grease interceptor?

A grease interceptor is an outdoor, underground vault, typically with a capacity of 500 gallons or more, designed to remove fats, oils, and grease and prevent them from entering the sanitary sewer system.

The vaults have a two or three compartment system and the wastewater flows between each compartment, allowing time for it to cool and remaining grease to congeal and rise to the surface.

Do I need a grease trap or interceptor?

Maybe. If you are a commercial food establishment you are required to install a grease trap.  If you are a commercial vehicle/equipment repair shop or carwash you are required to install an oil grit separator.  If you are a dental office you are required to install a dental amalgam interceptor.  All grease traps and interceptors are to be regularly maintained and documented.

Can you recommend a maintenance schedule?

It's best to clean grease traps weekly. If the trap or interceptor is routinely at or above 25% (combined FOG and solids) then the cleaning frequency needs to be increased. A licensed hauler is required to clean your FOG interceptor and dispose of the grease at a licensed facility.

What are the criteria for inspecting grease traps?

Grease trap and grease interceptor inspections follow the same standard guidelines.

  1. The inspector will check that the system is functioning properly.
  2. The depth of the sediment and grease layers will be checked.
  3. If the combined grease and sediment layers equal or exceed 25% of the trap or interceptor capacity, the device will need to be cleaned.
  4. The inspector may also ask to see the maintenance and cleaning records for the trap or interceptor.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)


​What are BMPs?

​BMP stands for Best Management Practice. BMPs are useful for reducing the amount of FOG that goes down the drain and, ultimately, reducing cleaning frequencies on grease traps and interceptors. ​

Reduced FOG also lowers the risk of clogged pipes and sanitary sewer overflows. An example of a BMP is wiping excess grease out of pots and pans with a paper towel before washing them.

Best Management Practice Explanation
Don't discharge fats, oils, and grease into the sanitary sewer. Grease can solidify and trap other solid particles to completely plug the wastewater collection system.
Don't discharge caustics, acids, solvents, or other emulsifying agents. Though emulsifying agents can dissolve solidified grease, the grease can re-congeal further downstream.
Clean under sink grease traps weekly. Due to their smaller size, grease traps tend to fill to capacity more quickly than grease interceptors.
Clean grease interceptors routinely. Once a grease interceptor reaches capacity, it loses efficiency, sending grease downstream.
Ensure any cleaning or maintenance performed on the grease retention devices is done correctly. Inspect your interceptor after it has been cleaned. Witness grease trap cleaning by employees. Experience with cleaning processes will help management recognize what proper cleaning looks like.
Keep a maintenance log. Record date, amount of grease removed, who cleaned the device, etc. Maintenance logs are suggested for all businesses with grease retention devices.
Train kitchen staff (not to pour grease down drains, conservative use of FOG in food prep, disposal of materials in garbage not drain, etc). People are more willing to support an effort if they understand the basis for it. Less FOG entering the system results in reduced maintenance costs and fewer problems with blockages and reduced capacity.
Post "No Grease" signs above the sinks. Signs provide a constant reminder of this important Best Management Practice.
Water temperature at or below 140°F. Temperatures over 140°F will liquefy grease, but the grease will re-congeal and cause blockages further downstream in the sanitary sewer system as the water cools.
Dry wipe pots, pans, and dishware with paper towels or scrapers. Dry wiping will reduce the grease loading in the system. This will reduce cleaning frequency and maintenance costs for grease removal devices.
Use disposable high temperature pan liners. Liners can reduce or eliminate the discharge of grease and food from the cleaning of pots and pans.
Proper food waste disposal, food goes in the trash, not down the drain. Food particles in the pipes will fill the grease retention device faster and increase the likelihood of blockages.
Make sure all drain screens are installed. Train employees to dispose of the captured materials in the garbage, NOT down the drain. Food particles in the pipes will fill the grease retention device faster and increase the likelihood of blockages.
Skim or filter fryer grease daily and change the oil only when necessary. Test kits for fryer oil can be purchased. Oil will need to be changed less frequently.
Collect waste fryer grease, grill grease, and cooking oils for recycling. Contact a grease recycler to properly dispose of the collected grease. These actions reduce grease loading on grease removal devices and the sewer. The food service establishment may be paid for the waste material and will reduce the amount of garbage it must pay to have hauled away.
Locate grease storage away from storm drain catch basins. Storing grease far from storm drains minimizes the chance that any spills will reach the storm drainage system.
Use absorbent pads or other material to clean up spilled material. Dispose of the materials in the garbage. FOG should never be washed down the drain.
Scrape and sweep up spills before using water for clean up. Dry cleaning helps to minimize the amount of FOG entering the drain.
Make sure that mop water and mat cleaning water is discharged to a mop sink connected to the grease retention device. It's important to collect the grease that winds up on the floors and tracked through the restaurant.
Routinely clean kitchen exhaust system filters. Clean them in a sink connected to the grease retention device. Grease and oil can escape through the kitchen exhaust system. It will then accumulate on the roof of the establishment and eventually enter the storm drain when it rains.
Don't drain the dishwasher to the grease retention device. The high temperature of the water and the unutilized detergents will flush grease further downstream.