Frequent questions regarding industrial waste control and pretreatment.

  • Q. Where do I go to get a Pretreatment Plan Review?
    • A. Pretreatment plan review is conducted at the One Stop Shop. For an overview of our office’s role in the plan review process, check here.
  • Q. What is a grease trap/grease interceptor?
    • A. A grease trap (or interceptor) is a plumbing device designed to physically separate grease and solids from kitchen wastewater.
  • Q. What is the difference between a grease trap and a grease interceptor?
    • A. Grease trap’s and grease interceptors are both plumbing devices for grease removal from industrial wastewater discharge streams. The grease trap is generally thought of as the smaller indoor device, usually with between 20 and 150 gallons of liquid holding capacity, and, until recently, typically installed below a sink. Grease traps are usually made of steel and often designed with just a single compartment. The grease interceptor is generally considered the large pre-cast concrete tank, typically with a liquid holding capacity anywhere from 250 to 5,000 gallons and designed with two separate compartments. For the purposes of this website, the term “grease trap” is used to describe both devices.
  • Q. When is a grease trap required?
    • A. In Austin, a grease trap is required for any commercial or institutional food service operation.
  • Q. What size grease trap will I need?
  • Q. How often must my grease trap be cleaned?
    • A. The Austin City Code specifies all grease traps must be completely emptied and cleaned by a licensed hauler at least once every three months or more frequently if, before three months, the grease and solids in the trap’s final compartment accumulate to 50% or more of the wetted height of the trap. The perfect clean-out frequency will vary for each business. Most grease traps should be pumped at least once every 30 to 45 days. Ask your grease trap maintenance service provider to take periodic grease and sludge layer measurements to determine the right frequency for your business.
  • Q. How do I dispose of grease trap waste?
    • A. Grease trap waste must be transported to a properly permitted disposal site by a liquid waste hauler licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and permitted by the City of Austin. Trip ticket manifest documentation procedures must be followed in accordance with applicable regulations. The Austin City Code specifies that grease trap waste manifest records must be made available for up to the past three years in which the facility has been in business.
  • Q. What is a sample port?
    • A. A sample port is an access point on the wastewater service line that allows periodic compliance monitoring by the Austin Water Utility. A sample port would be required for any facility discharging wastewater regulated under Chapter 15-10 of the Austin City Code. If the wastewater manhole is located in an area accessible to sampling, then Pretreatment Program staff may decide to accept it as the sample port. This determination is conducted on a case-by-case basis. In those cases where an existing manhole is not acceptable as a sample port, the installation of a sanitary "tee" cleanout on the wastewater service lateral downstream of all plumbing connections is acceptable as a sample port (view standard detail). Again, the sample port must be installed in an area accessible to sampling and away from any vehicle traffic. Find more information about sample port requirements.
  • Q. What is a control manhole?
  • Q. Do I need a Wastewater Discharge Permit?
    • A. A permit is required for any discharge of industrial wastewater into the City of Austin's wastewater collection system. Each separately permitted source is considered to be an industrial user. Several different types of permits are issued based on the nature of the business and the volume and characteristics of the wastewater to be discharged. Our program is also involved in the approval of discharges of hauled liquid waste at the city's approved receiving station. The process for obtaining a discharge permit and the type of permit application that is required vary for different classes of industrial users. Find more information about the permitting process.
  • Q. What happens if I am late paying my permit fee?
    • A. The failure to pay a permit fee on time is considered the same as discharging without a valid permit, a violation subjecting the offender to water service termination and/or a potential maximum fine of $2,000 for each day on which a discharge occurs without the valid permit.
  • Q. What is the wastewater surcharge and why am I being charged this fee?
  • Q. Where can I find the wastewater surcharge fee on my utility bill?
    • A. If subject to this fee, these charges would be itemized in the Austin Water Utility section of the details portion of the bill. This is usually located on the back-side of the bill. See an example bill here (note the highlighted section).
  • Q. How can I lower my wastewater bill?
  • Q. Where can I have my commercial kitchen grease waste hauled and and legally disposed of?