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Change in Sarasota County grease regulations leave business owners concerned

A change in the county's fats, oils and grease regulations leave business owners with additional annual expenses.

In an effort to reduce sewage spills and grease runoff, Sarasota County in July 2019 approved a fats, oils and grease ordinance that required business owners to increase the frequency in which they pump out their grease traps.

However, several business owners said the first time they heard of the regulation change, which will give business owners an added cost, was in late December. The ordinance went into effect Jan. 1.

David Cash, the assistant director for public utilities, said the purpose of the ordinance is to ensure that businesses have the appropriate infrastructure to prevent grease from entering the county’s wastewater collection system, which can cause clogs and blockages.

When that happens, it can cause a sanitary sewer overflow. According to county documents, from 2014 to 2018, the county averaged 57 sanitary sewer overflows a year.