A Danbury City Council committee is considering an ordinance to regulate disposal of fats, oils and grease into the sewer system. The ordinance stems from a lawsuit settlement. The Connecticut Fund for the Environment filed a suit in 2016 over allegations Danbury discharged raw, untreated sewage into local streams.
The City has since reported sewage discharges to the state and developed a program to inspect, clean and maintain the wastewater collection system. The last piece of the agreement is this program to stop food establishments from releasing fats, oils and grease into the sewage system. FOG can clog pipes and present a significant problem for the wastewater treatment plant. FOG can also cause sanitary sewer blockages and overflows.
The EPA notified Danbury this month that the other parts of the settlement have been achieved.
The City has had a form of inspections under 2005 general permit laws. Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they always intended to get an ordinance like this on the books, but was forced to do it quicker because of the lawsuit.
The suit alleged an an estimated 450,000 gallons of untreated sewage and stormwaters flooded into Limekiln Brook, the Still River, Beaver Brook and Padanaram Brook between 2011 and 2016. The state later listed Limekiln Brook and Still River as needing special attention under the Water Quality Restoration Action Plan. The EPA found violations of the Clean Water Act. Danbury agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the lawsuit, pay the legal costs of the environmental group and implement a number of changes.
Iadarola says the ordinance and the fee structure has been modeled after laws in other municipalities. He notes that this proposal formally gives City inspectors the right to go into an establishment and ensure they comply with the general permit.