Greased Lining

On Tuesday night, the Carlsbad City Council issued an order to the city’s 184 restaurants...and it wasn’t for take-out, either. The city council voted unanimously to add a subsection into the city’s municipal code, Title 13, regulating the disposal of fat, oils and greases into the city’s sewer from dining establishments.

The order comes in response to a state mandate aiming to reduce the amount of grease disposed of in sewer systems.

During the city staff presentation, video images were displayed from inside Carlsbad’s sewers, revealing globs of hardened grease hanging from pipes, occasionally blocking flow. According to city staff, from 2001 to 2006, 25 to 35 percent of sewage backups were caused by grease buildup.

Once the amendment is adopted and included in the city’s municipal code, Carlsbad officials will drop more cameras down into manholes in search of fat-filled pipes; the restaurants with the most heavily impacted lines will then be asked to install either large, costly, concrete grease interceptors or less-expensive grease traps, depending on the amount of buildup.

In addition to the plans to seek out offending restaurants with the aid of cameras, new restaurant owners (and owners planning a remodel costing in excess of $50,000) will be asked to install a grease-capturing device in their restaurants. Purchase and installation of these devices can cost as much as $30,000.

Three speakers reminded councilmembers about the hard economic times for many in the community, and that potential requirements to install a grease-capturing device in their restaurant could shut down small businesses throughout the city.

Mayor Bud Lewis agreed: “I cringe every time I hear about more fees for small-business owners.” Lewis went on to say that the council needs to take future steps to help and protect those businesses.

Allan Wanamaker knows the pipes under his restaurant (Al’s Café) are in bad shape and he wants to be a good neighbor and responsible business owner, but the cost of a grease interceptor could ruin his business. He asked the council to look into more affordable options. “I’m asking the council to look into using something other than the interceptor, which will be tens of thousands of dollars more than the smaller grease traps.”

The grease ordinance will be voted on at an upcoming city council meeting. For more information on the Carlsbad City Council, go to

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