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  • Writer's pictureKent Hobart

Sewer Surcharges

Fats, oils and grease entering the sewer system from food service establishments and industrial users lead to big problems for wastewater utilities. If your facility has a designated food prep area of any type, your utility may be billing you as a source of these greasy wastes that solidify in the waste stream and cause clogs in pipes that lead to sewer backups and overflows.

Special treatment of the waste stream to remove these greasy wastes is an expensive process and many utilities incorporate specific FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) Surcharges to recover the cost of treatment. Sometimes these surcharges will appear as separate line items on customer bills, often the surcharge is hidden in what appear to be normal charges for wastewater treatment.

Metering the volumes of FOG a specific customer discharges into the waste stream is a complex and expensive process. Instead of metering, most utilities choose to make an estimate of a customer's FOG discharge based on the type of business they operate and the amount of water they are consuming each month. The surcharge rates between business types can vary greatly and it is important to make sure if you are being billed a sewer surcharge it is the appropriate charge for your facilities.

One of our recent church clients was paying a hidden restaurant level FOG surcharge on their main water account because a seldom used church kitchen was served by that meter. The surcharge was being applied on every gallon of water flowing through that meter even though the vast majority of the water was never used in food preparation. To compound the situation, the same charges were being levied on another meter serving the building housing the original church kitchen and sanctuary. The cooking equipment in that kitchen had been removed years ago, but the utility kept billing the monthly surcharges as if the wastewater stream was coming from a full service restaurant. Our efforts on behalf of this client were successful in getting the FOG surcharges stopped on both accounts and a full refund of the seven years of surcharges billed in error on the original kitchen.

Still have questions or need help finding the sewer surcharges on your bills? Please call us at (813) 917-8952 and let us provide an answer.


Hi, I'm Kent Hobart and I'm different. I've been blessed with a knowledge of utility billing and rate structures that is rare and yes, a little weird.

I started Utility Refund Specialists as a way to use my unique skills in serving organizations like yours. We audit our client's utility bills and identify errors in the billing that earn them refunds from their utility providers. I know, it sounds crazy but 3 in every 4 clients we work with have errors in their bills.

The incidence of errors is so frequent and the refund amounts are large enough, we can perform the audits for free. We only get paid after we secure you a refund!

Interested in learning more? Use this link to set up a 30- minute discovery call. Want to talk sooner, give me a call at (813) 917-8952 or send me an email.

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