Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 20, 2013

BUSINESS: Pipe Cleaning Awards: City awards businesses that work to keep sewer pipes clean of oil and grease

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — “Flushable.” Do NOT trust that word.

Seriously. Don't be that lunkhead who waits to be schooled by his or her porcelain throne mistakes. Oil, grease, wipies, disposable paper towels, medication, nursing pads and even hair is clogging lines and harming pumps and related equipment.

Imagine the chaos that ensues: Raw sewage – toilet stew at its most horrific – comes tumbling into bathrooms in waves of overflow and stench. This potential damage is detrimental to any structure with toilet – businesses, homes, you name it.

To emphasize and educate about the dark side of such damage, Jacksonville City officials have come up with a way to award those to adhere to the good side: the tenets of preventive maintenance.

Cleaning pipes of oil and grease and keeping obstructive mess out of the city sewer lines is the mantra.

This week, the city presented accolades for the most inspirational of these efforts in the form of “Clean Pipe Awards” to 32 local restaurants and fast food restaurants.

So it turns out that good news is actually great news. As many as 66 Jacksonville food service industries – a little bit less than half of the businesses eligible for this award – worked to earn the accolade by holding the oil and grease at bay.

The winners? Angelina House, Beverly’s Café, Brookshire Bros., Catfish King, Champs, Chicken Express, Chili’s, Church’s Chicken, both Dairy Queen locations, ETMC, Gardendale, Hong Kong Buffet, Hungry Howie’s, Jack in the Box, Jacksonville College, Jacksonville Healthcare, Jalapeno Tree, KFC, La Fonda del Sol, Legends, Lupe’s, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Posaditos, Sonic, Subway, Super Gallo, Taco Bell, Trinity Mother Frances, Twin Oaks and Walmart, according to Pretreatment Coordinator Kelly Young.

To qualify for a Clean Pipe Award, one of these establishments must not have received any oil and grease violations during the previous year (and must have been open for at least the last six months).

“Fats, oils and grease that collects in the sewer lines can build up and clog a pipe, just like cholesterol can plug-up an artery, and this presents a significant problem for the City’s sewer system,” Young said in an issued release. “If allowed to accumulate, this grease can lead to sanitary sewer overflows and other costly problems. The recipients of this award are doing their parts to help minimize the amount of unwanted oil and grease being introduced into our sewer system.”

The number of food service establishments qualifying for the award in 2013 is up considerably from years past. Last year only 23 businesses received a Clean Pipe Award. Young said this is a good indicator that Jacksonville’s restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes are taking their grease abatement responsibilities seriously.

 “Since the Clean Pipe Awards were created, we’ve experienced a considerable decrease in the number of sanitary sewer overflows that we have to deal with, and that equates to direct savings for the taxpayers of Jacksonville,” he said in the release. “It seems like more food service establishments are earning these awards each year, which is certainly a good sign. The City of Jacksonville really appreciates the efforts made by these businesses to stay in compliance.”

Jacksonville won a Municipal Excellence Award from the Texas Municipal League in 2010 for its Clean Pipe Awards program – which, at that time, was the only program of its kind in the state of Texas.