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 The PBCWUD Pretreatment Program provides for the regulation of wastewater dischargers into the sanity sewer system. The Department administers the program in accordance with Palm Beach County Ordinance 96-3. The purpose of the program is to prevent the introduction of pollutants into the wastewater collection and treatment system. This is import to prevent interference with the treatment process, avoid damage to the equipment, harm to its workers, the public and the environment.

The program requires all new connections to the sewer system to be inspected for applicable pretreatment equipment, such as, oil and grease interceptors (OGI), lint traps, oil/water interceptors, etc. Any changes in existing non-residential customer accounts are reviewed for pretreatment requirements. It is recommended that these changes, renovation, alteration, etc., be forwarded to the Utilities for review for the need of any type of pretreatment. This will avoid delays in re-construction. The program provides for an annual OGI fee of $300 be added to the water bill.  All industrial users are subject to permits based on the process wastewater discharged into the sanitary sewer system. These permitted users are monitored and sampled for compliance with the local discharge limits listed in the ordinance as well as federal limits listed in the code of federal regulations.

The Utilities Department's OGI Monitoring Program requires all restaurants, food service and auto repair facilities to maintain and clean their grease traps and oil/water separators at least annually. These OGI's are sampled and inspected every six months. If test results indicate the pretreatment limits are exceeded, the customer is notified of an applicable monthly surcharge in writing. In order to comply and avoid the surcharge, the customer must have the trap cleaned and provide proof (legible copy of invoice or cleaning manifest) and test results from an independent certified laboratory indicating compliance limits have been met to the Water Utilities Department Pretreatment Coordinator prior to the date indicated on the notification letter.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pretreatment Program

(Click for a Downloadable Brochure)

The purpose of the pretreatment program is to block the introduction of pollutants, which can cause damage to the equipment and interfere with the wastewater treatment process, from entering the wastewater collection system. The program is important in preventing harm to workers, the public, wastewater equipment and the environment.

WHAT IS PRETREATMENT? 
Pretreatment is a requirement placed on some commercial and industrial wastewater customers to provide treatment of the wastewater prior to discharging to the wastewater collection system. For example: grease traps, oil/water separators, chemical neutralization and cyclone grit separators are a few methods of pretreatment.

WHY IS PRETREATMENT REQUIRED? 
To comply with Federal and State regulations and statutes. The program is administered through the Palm Beach County (PBC) Sewers and Sewage Disposal Ordinance, PBC Environmental Control 1 and Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department (PBCWUD) Uniform Policies and Procedures (UPAP). The laws were enacted to protect human health and safety by limiting or prohibiting hazardous discharges to the collection system.

WHEN DID THE PRETREATMENT PROGRAM BECOME EFFECTIVE? 
The program became effective with the approval of the PBC Sewer Use Ordinance by the Board of County Commissioners in 1996. The State of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) mandated pretreatment programs in 1997.

WHAT ARE THE WASTEWATER LIMITS? 
For major industrial dischargers, the limits are listed in the Ordinance. For customers with oil/grease interceptors, grease traps and oil/water separators, the following limits on the discharge from the pretreatment device must meet the following limits:

  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) 
    400 mg/L or less in concentration
  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS)              
    400 mg/L or less in concentration
  • Oil/Grease (OG)                                    
    100 mg/L or less in concentration
WHAT BUSINESSES ARE REQUIRED TO BE IN THE PRETREATMENT PROGRAM?
  • Restaurants / Food Preparation Industries
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Funeral Homes
  • Metal Fabrication / Metal Shops
  • Transportation Cleaning Facilities
  • All Industrial Waste Producers

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY DISCHARGE MEETS THE ESTABLISHED LIMITS?
Grease traps, grease interceptors and oil/water separators are inspected and sampled every six months by PBCWUD. The sample will be analyzed to determine if the discharge meets the established limits.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF MY DISCHARGE DOES NOT MEET THE LIMITS? 
For oil/grease interceptors, grease traps and oil/water separators, a letter will be sent stating what limits failed, by how much, and allowing thirty (30) days to take appropriate action. After thirty (30) days, a surcharge will be added to the utility bill. For industrial dischargers, this will be decided on the basis of the permit issued by PBCWUD.

WHAT IS A SURCHARGE? 
A fee established to recover the cost of collecting, transporting and treating higher strength wastewater.

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THE SURCHARGE? 

The surcharge is determined by:

  • Utilizing laboratory test results from wastewater samples taken from the discharge of your pretreatment device.
  • Your current water consumption.
  • The established surcharge rates as listed in the UPAP.

WHAT APPROPRIATE ACTION MUST I TAKE IF MY PRETREATMENT DEVICE FAILS? 
 The following will be necessary:

  1. Have your pretreatment device (grease trap) thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Have an independent, certified laboratory obtain a sample from your pretreatment device and analyze it for the limits stated in the letter. The test results should be at or below the limits stated.
  3. Forward this information to the Pretreatment Program Coordinator.

WHAT IF I HAVE MY PRETREATMENT DEVICE CLEANED AND TESTED AND MY DEVICE STILL FAILS?

  • Apply Best Management Practices (BMP) such as:
    • Recycle or properly dispose of waste cooking oil.
    • Educate and monitor staff to ensure proper disposal methods are being used.
    • Install screens on all kitchen drains.
  • Re-evaluate the pretreatment device to assure proper capacity and treatment efficiency.
  • Conduct frequent and thorough cleanings of the pretreatment device.

WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? 
Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Pretreatment Program Coordinator: Stephen Brown at 561-493-6025 or sebrown@pbcwater.com.