Goodbye blocked and smelly drains permanently-Arcadian case study
Category: Multi outlet hospitality venue
Fats, Oils and Greases (FOGs) are a major issue for water companies across the country, and particularly for those responsible for food and hospitality establishments.
This case study looks at a solution to permanently resolve a persistent blocked drain and associated odour issue at The Arcadian, a Birmingham based multi-venue hospitality space comprising 16 restaurants serving a range of global cuisines, 10 bars, 2 coffee shops, 2 hotels, a comedy club and 15 other outlets.
Jo Kinsella has managed The Arcadian for over 7 years; the drains and associated odours have been an issue for her for the entire time.
The Arcadian is built on two levels with half of the establishment serviced by drains which go through a regular pumping station and which means they don’t get blocked. The other half is where the majority of the eating establishments are based, the dominant food sector of which is oriental. This proportion of oriental restaurants is a particular challenge due to the hot water bath cooking methodology they employ. Inevitably, a quantity of fats, oils and greases end up deposited into the sinks and drains which, when cooled, form into thick layers that restrict outflow.
It is in this second half of the establishment that the drain blockages were occurring approximately every three months. The blockages were exacerbated because if one property’s drains were blocked, this then caused issues for a number of other properties. The knock-on effect was immense with restaurants needing to close until the issue was resolved.
The drains servicing The Arcadian are around 40 years old and are becoming porous. They have to cope with not only the large number of restaurants but also the general public using the toilet facilities within these and the other entertainment venues. The Arcadian management had investigated relining the drains or even having new drains fitted but the cost was prohibitively expensive.
The Arcadian management has had to pay a company to jet clean/deep clean the drains up to four times a year, and in the past had undertaken an inspection with cameras to show the extent of the blockage. This is an avoidable expense which they have incurred for many years.
An approach was made to Waste2 Environmental Systems Ltd (W2ES) when Jo Kinsella was seeking an effective resolution to this long standing issue. She was particularly concerned about odours from the drains and to avoid any further business closures. Whilst being somewhat sceptical about the effectiveness of BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG because of previous experiences with enzyme products, the centre managers’ need for a solution outweighed this concern.
W2ES carried out an appraisal of the venue, and visited the preparation kitchens in a number of the hospitality outlets to understand the cooking methods employed and the potential of FOGs’ generation. They then reviewed the drainage infrastructure. The team spoke to a number of the food venue managers and discovered that although most had some rudimentary method of diverting the FOGs from the drains, they were obviously failing. Following a detailed assessment of the findings, an implementation plan was formed to facilitate a trial of BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG based on set KPIs.
Regular daily 33g doses of BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG in puck (tablet) form was initiated with a timescale of six weeks. The on-site maintenance team carried out a controlled study by which each vendor’s kitchen drain and grease trap was dosed daily to ensure the efficacy of the process was proven.
The trial began in June 2022. Since that time there has not been any drain blockages whatsoever and no problematic odours. This is the longest period of time that no remedial action has been required on the drains.
Jo Kinsella has included the use of the BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG pucks for every hospitality outlet as part of their general maintenance service and all new hospitality businesses have the service included as part of the overall service charge.
Note: The drains have not been professionally checked since the start of the trial but it is assumed, as there have not been any further blockages to date (April 2023), that the treatment is effective in the long term removal of fats, oils and greases.
“What the client said
“We take our environmental policy seriously and have worked with the team from Waste2 to implement a best practice of treating our drainage infrastructure with BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG. This is a biological system that not only prevents drain blockages, it consumes the FOGs, preventing reforming beyond our property and thus making the drainage around us better for Birmingham.
“Since the implementation of BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG across the site, we are very pleased as to how clean and clear our drainage system has quickly become. We will continue to use BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG pucks, as they will help reduce vermin and drainage maintenance issues.”
The Arcadian - Birmingham
Severn Trent Water clears around 30,000 blockages across the entire West Midlands region each year, a large proportion of which are caused by fats and food waste escaping down kitchen plugholes and drains. It is here that it binds together with all the other things that end up in the sewer rather than the bin, to create huge lumps known as ‘fatbergs’, which block the sewers. These blockages can cause sewage to back up into people’s homes, the street or even into the local environment.
They operate a consistent education programme to attempt to mitigate the number and scale of the blockages. For example, in the lead up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Severn Trent, in collaboration with contract partners ECAS, wrote to 579 food service establishments in areas where Birmingham 2022 events would be taking place, including Birmingham, Warwick, Wolverhampton and Sutton Coldfield, to provide top tips on FOG management.
They reported that thanks to the proactive work of Severn Trent and ECAS, good kitchen practices, and the installation of grease trapping equipment, it is estimated that 70,000 litres of FOG were prevented from going down the drains over the course of the Commonwealth Games.
How does BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG work?
Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs) are common contaminants in wastewater systems. They discharge from a number of sources and pose a problem for sewer and septic systems because they are largely insoluble, accumulating over time in drainage lines and holding tanks. A layer then forms over the surface of water which leads to a decrease in dissolved oxygen content. This in turn reduces the natural microbial activity responsible for FOGs breakdown.
Naturally occurring microbial consortia are largely responsible for the removal of organic waste in advanced wastewater and sewage treatment systems but require access to oxygen content to do this. Microbial metabolism results in the breakdown of organic material but this activity can cause odours and, if not highly efficient, can lead to the blockage of sewer pipes with undissolved FOG material.
Bioaugmentation with BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG
Bioaugmentation is the practice of adding actively growing, microbial strains into a native microbial community. This enhances the ability of the microbial community to respond to fluctuations in the environment or to degrade certain compounds. Bioaugmentation can be used to reduce FOG materials in wastewater and mitigate some of the negatives associated with partial breakdown. BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG is comprised of a proprietary mix of natural surfactants, metabolically cooperative microorganisms, and small molecule metabolic co-factors that stimulate natural microbial systems in the breakdown of a broad spectrum of organic matter including FOGs.
When dosed into wastewater containing high levels of FOGs, BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG provides the following benefits:
- Odour control. BiOWiSH® operates as an effective facultative anaerobe allowing it to reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds creating odours.
- FOG reduction. FOGs levels are rapidly reduced, even in systems with relatively high flow/low retention times, in the presence of typical cleaning agents and in otherwise normally challenging conditions such as low temperature.
- Improved effluent quality. Depending on the available retention time in the system, significant improvements in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS), and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) can be achieved.
In vitro studies and numerous field trials across multiple geographies show that BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG:
- Effectively reduces FOG accumulation in wastewater.
- BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG microorganisms are not limited to producing the necessary enzymes
to cleave FOG, but can further degrade resulting compounds to support biomass development, and therefore prevent downstream solidification.
- Reduces odours associated with FOGs and FOGs breakdown.
- Prevents fat blockages in pipework.
- Provides a simple, rapid, low cost way to manage FOGs removal that is safe and environmentally sustainable.
“Since the implementation of a BiOWiSH® treatment regime, no settled sludge has accumulated within the treatment system, pipe work blockages have been eliminated, and the working environment is no longer adversely affected by odour.”
Wickwar Brewing Company,
Find out how BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG can help your establishment