Kennewick officials are about to launch an anti-FOG campaign throughout the city's sewer system.
FOG, which refers to accumulation of fats, oils and grease in sewer lines and the waste water treatment facilities, is an expensive problem that costs $123,000 a year to remove.
Chris Espinoza, who monitors pretreatment services for the municipal waste water treatment facilities, said the gunk is a byproduct of food services that can block sewer lines and clog manholes.
Espinoza said most of Kennewick's 267 food service establishments have grease traps and check them regularly. But 67 restaurants have no systems for removing FOG, which ends up going directly into the city's sewer system.
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Espinoza said the city has the authority to fine restaurants that don't remove FOG, but he prefers to educate owners and show them what they can do to reduce the problem.
"Our goal is to get two-thirds reduction of FOG," he said.
Gary Deardorff, manager of municipal services, said he intends to ask the council to consider policy changes that will help Espinoza work with food service establishments to more easily comply with the city's pretreatment program.
The city also may start a program to help residents who can't easily pay their bimonthly sewer and water charges.
The program, which would be administered through the Community Action Connections program in Pasco, would allow Kennewick residents to donate to a fund that would be used to pay a bimonthly bill of no more than $60 for a qualifying resident's sewer/water bill.
Dan Legard, city finance director, said the program will be introduced this summer, and it will be called "Kennewick Kares."
A resident would qualify by not having a household income higher than 150 percent of the federal poverty limit. That would be $2,881 a month, or $34,572 annually.
Legard said each resident who qualifies would be allowed one Kennewick Kares monthly payment a year.
Councilman Don Britain recommended last fall that the city consider creating the program, which is similar to the Benton PUD and the Kennewick Irrigation District helping hands programs.
"This shows people in Kennewick are taking care of Kennewick. I appreciate everyone helping on this," Britain said.
Councilman John Hubbard, who is on the board for Community Action Connections, said he was pleased Kennewick was offering the program.
The council will have to vote to approve the Kennewick Kares program, Mayor Steve Young noted.