Frequently Asked Questions
As part of our continuing effort to protect the environment as well as the integrity and operation of public infrastructure, the City of Laredo adopted ordinance 2018-O-030 regarding Industrial and High Strength Waste. This ordinance applies to all Food Services Establishments (FSEs), Food Processing Establishments (FPEs) and other commercial accounts
• What is the Surcharge Program?
• My business received Surcharge Notification – what does that mean?
• How is a surcharge calculated?
• My business does not fry anything – why do I still have a surcharge?
• What is grease trap or grease interceptor?
• What if I think the surcharge is wrong?
• Can I request a re-sample?
• How can I reduce my surcharge?
What is the Surcharge Program?
My business received a Surcharge Notification – what does this mean? What is the purpose of this program?
The purpose of the City’s surcharge program is to reduce excess amounts of solids and oxygen demanding substances from entering the wastewater system. Solids and fats, oils and grease (FOGs) can clog the sewer lines cause sanitary sewer overflows and put a heavy operational load on the wastewater treatment plant. Sewer clogs, overflows and heavy operational loads at the wastewater plant increase maintenance and operating costs in the system and at the plant.
The ordinance was designed to allocate a surcharge offsetting the added costs and operational loads the city encounters from treating Industrial and Commercial waste when the sewage concentrations are above the normal domestic Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) design concentrations of 250mg/L.
How is a surcharge calculated?
In order to determine a customer’s wastewater strength, Utilities staff will collect a sample of the wastewater downstream of the grease trap, through a sample port (cleanout). The samples will be sent to a laboratory for testing of BOD and TSS. The surcharge will ONLY be applicable when the test results are higher than normal BOD and TSS for domestic wastewater. The surcharge will be included in your regular water bill based on the following equation provided by Sec. 31-108 of Ordinance 2018-O-030.
S = MG x 8.34 [$0.35 (BOD Sample – 250) + $0.25 (TSS Sample – 250)]
S = Surcharge fee 8.34 = Conversion Factor, pounds per gallon
MG = Million Gallons 250(mg/L) = Normal domestic BOD & TSS Concentration
BOD = Biochemical Oxygen Demand $0.35 = Cost of treatment per pound of BOD
TSS = Total Suspended Solids $0.25 = Cost of treatment per pound of TSS
My business does not fry anything – Why do I still have a surcharge?
• Many materials such as cooking oils, salad dressings, ice cream mix, concentrated syrup from soda machines, coffee creamer, etc. add high concentrations of BOD.
• Any solid material such as crumbs, dirt, food wastes, can be suspended in wastewater and can add up to high concentrations of TSS.
Dispose of these wastes to the grease box and solid waste receptacles as much as possible and follow the Best Management Practices (BMP) in order to reduce waste
What is a grease trap or grease interceptor?
The name grease trap or grease interceptor is often used interchangeably. These devices are utilized to allow for the separation of fats, oils and greases in wastewater discharges from food service establishments and/or other type grease and oil generating establishments. Such traps or interceptors may be the “outdoor” or in-ground type normally 1,000 gallons capacity or greater, or the “under-the-counter” package units normally referred to as the under-the-counter grease traps.
Routine maintenance and cleaning are required to ensure these devices perform properly.
What if I think the surcharge is wrong?
In accordance with City Ordinance 2018-O-030, the user must contest charges within five (5) days of issuance of the surcharge notification. After the five (5) days have passed, re-sampling or adjustment of any charges on the water bill may not be possible.
Can I request a re-sample?
Sampling Fee: $50
Total Re-sampling fees:
• Sampling shall occur approximately within (2) weeks of request approval.
• There is no guarantee that the Surcharge Fee will be reduced by additional sampling.
• The newly calculated fee will then be applied monthly for a period of six (6) months.
• Any and all charges listed on a water bill must be paid
• Download Re-Sample Request form
How can I reduce my Surcharge?
Frequent cleaning of the grease trap and sample port using Best Management Practices (BMPs) are essential for the kitchen. Additionally, preventing food scraps and oily/greasy wastes from washing down the sink is a fundamental method for reducing waste strength. Studies show that trained kitchen staff can help to ensure BMPs are implemented and waste strength is reduced. All of these steps will help to reduce clogged sewer lines, overflows, and the cost of treatment.
Download our guides to make sure BMPs are implemented in your business
• Download “What’s Your Kitchen Costing You?”
For more information on this program, please contact Juan Rios via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (956)721-2007
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Laredo, Texas 78043
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Laredo, Texas 78041
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