How Captain FOG has become a renowned advocate in the wastewater business?

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How Captain FOG has become a renowned advocate in the wastewater business?

Posted on 28 November 2017 by GJ
Posted in FluksAqua Community, FluksAqua insights, Innovation, Sewage dump, Wastewater Management, Water and wastewater community, Tagged fats, FOG, grease, oil,

In the city of London, Ontario, Canada, Fat, oils and greases (FOG) represent 40% of sewer blockages and can lead to what is known as fatbergs. Can you imagine how much FOG accounts for in your city? Barry Orr, also known as Captain FOG, is an experienced wastewater operator, who dedicated his life to protecting sewer system infrastructure. Orr, FOG leading voice, has led several successful programs to fight FOG. Orr and the City of London started the “Your Turn” program by offering disposable cups for citizens. FluksAqua has recently joined forces to expand the Your Turn program to other Canadian provinces with program.  


Not far from our Canadian borders, our neighbours Americans just celebrated the US-Thanksgiving, which is by far one the most important celebration in the country. During this period of great feast, people tend to cook fat turkeys and eat more than plenty. What then happens to the  fat oil and grease cooking? They are most often dumped down the drain or worst in the toilet.  Unfortunately, dumping FOGs harmful to sewer systems but not only. As a matter of fact, unclogging sewers, is a financial burden, because it cost a huge amount of money to unclog these pipes, drains and sewers systems.


I had the opportunity to discuss the Fat, Oil, and Grease matter with Barry “Captain FOG”.


Geraldine Jippé:  Can you explain or describe your implication towards the FOG program?

Barry Orr: I’ve always felt that “pollution prevention is the most cost efficient and sustainable method to protect our sewer system infrastructure and our water environment”. This has led to many unique outreach opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.


GJ: How did you become a leading voice to unclogging sewers from FOG in Canada? How and when did you start Your Turn?

BO: For over 22 years now, I’ve worked in treating and protecting our wastewater systems. In 2008, I was given an opportunity by the City of London to create a proactive program on creating awareness upon our sewer systems but also protecting them via our bylaws. The early days led to numerous inspections of various business, and presentations to schools and community groups.

We discovered a lack of knowledge around the different sewer connections and the route that wastewater takes before it enters a treatment facility or receiving waters.

By working with our Sewer Operations department, we found many FOG (fats, oils and grease) hot spots.We took an offensive response to FOG hot spots and thus, we began our food service establishments (FSE) program.

Many visits to the FSE’s has led to replacement of rotted out grease interceptors or cleaning frequency setup.Immediately the conditions within the hot spot areas noticed improvements but not all.

It was at this point that my peers started calling me “Captain FOG”, sometimes I got called the “Green police”.

I had written some papers for the Water Environment Association of Ontario and after presenting at the annual conference more municipalities saw value in FOG programs. This has led to many collaborative meetings across the country. My enthusiasm for sewer systems and our water environment became very certain.This enthusiasm found me being nominated for Water Canada’s “Water Next” award in the category of Government.


In June of 2015, I  was presented with the award and the panel said “Barry is both a leading voice and tireless advocate within the wastewater and water treatment sector, creating positive change and identifying clear and costly problems and then advancing very practical and doable solutions.”


Your Turn was created with wastewater treatment operations and the City of London communications specialists because we noticed residential “areas” are appearing on our “hot spots” list. As a potential solution to proper FOG disposal Your Turn highlighted wastewater treatment systems and the importance that everyone understand that “toilets are not garbage cans”! We also partnered with the London Fire Department to get the message out that cooking fires are preventable. This partnership has led to over 100,000 cups being hand out since “Your Turn” was launched in 2013.


GJ: What does it take to unclog fatbergs? What’s the financial impact for cities and citizen?

BO: Each fatberg that municipalities discover takes a team of professionals sometimes hours to break apart. High pressure water and even steam is injected into the sewer to break apart fog and large vacuum trucks are also used to capture the hardened FOG, which is then usually taken to a landfill site.

It is estimated that over $250 million is spent in Canada each year to remove the non flushable material like FOG and other garbage material.


GJ: Approximately, how much does it cost to cities to manage FOG?

BO: The various municipalities across Canada budget to flush, vacuum and camera (CCCTV sewer lines. This cost can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus equipment and personnel cost.


GJ: When it comes to celebration like Thanksgiving, are there any impacts?

BO: Every holiday celebration has the potential for excess FOG to be poured down a drain or toilet.

Here is just one example how many of us have after cooking a turkey made gravy and then filled the pan with water to soak?

After soaking how many of us have taken that pan to the toilet to dump the greasy water away?

Yes, it is that kind of action that clogs our sewer system.


GJ: What are the benefits to prevent FOG with impactful programs such as Your Turn, or now

BO: Proactive programs that raise awareness benefits us all in protecting our sewer systems and our water environment but it is the impact of engaging the future generations that makes long term sustainability worth the investment today!

GJ: What are the alternative  modern uses of FOG?

BO: Today FOG can be used in the creation of biofuel, it can be used in the creation of methane gas within anaerobic digestion that allows for to harness methane to run generators or heating systems. But the biggest contribution that FOG diversion might be invaluable to is that of Greenhouse gas reduction.

You see when FOG enters the landfill as it rots it produces the methane gas which then can enter the atmosphere that impacts the ozone layer. It is simple if we can reduce FOG from our landfills we can also protect ourselves from climate change impacts that FOG produces.


Celebrations, feast and food consumption can lead to a poor management of fat oil and grease. Thanks to strong advocates like Barry Orr, it’s time to raise awareness and  be a part of a next generation of conscious consumer by preserving our pipes and sewer systems. As mentioned by Barry Orr, using disposable cups is such a simple thing to do with a big impact.


If you are involved in a FOG program, share your experience with us!

Discussions on FOG on FluksAqua:


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