Protecting Your Property
Flood damage prevention has been a responsibility of the City of McAlester since the Oklahoma State Legislature required local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to minimize flood losses. The City of McAlester’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) gives the City regulatory jurisdiction over flood hazard areas of the City to promote public health, safety, and general welfare. This is accomplished by minimizing public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas identified in the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) which is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
More information can be found in the City of McAlester Land Development Code which is chapter 62, article V, division four, “Flood Hazard Overlay District and Flood Damage Prevention,” of the City’s Code of Ordinances.
The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Division was created when the City of McAlester, like other communities in Oklahoma, was required by federal environmental regulations to implement a stormwater management program. The City is permitted through the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ).
Stormwater, also called surface water, originates from rainfall and other precipitation that runs off surfaces such as: rooftops, streets, parking lots, lawns, and other compacted surfaces such as gravel and dirt. Surface water can also originate from sources such as springs, shallow groundwater, irrigation, and car washing. Stormwater will eventually find its way into constructed drainage facilities, streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater.
Management of all the resources listed above is critical. Stormwater management also refers to management of constructed facilities that handle stormwater before it reaches natural water bodies. These facilities are designed to offer conveyance of water away from impervious surfaces to avoid flooding and detention of water to reduce erosion downstream and to remove or restrict pollutants before they reach natural water bodies.
F.O.G. Fight! (Fats, Oils, & Grease)
If you put Fats, Oils, Greases, and other solids (FOGS) down the drain, they will harden into a gooey, sticky mess that cling to the walls in your household pipes or city sewer lines. Once attached, they begins to form clogs that reduces water flow and could cause a costly and disgusting sewage backup into your home, neighborhood, or business!
Examples of F.O.G. include:
• cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive, corn, etc.)
• butter, margarine, and shortening
• salad dressing
• bacon and sausage grease
• meat scraps
• peanut butter
• dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, sour cream, and ice cream
Household pipes and city sewer lines are not designed to handle these materials and can cause blockages, backups, pipe burst, and overflows. FOG doesn't just affect your plumbing lines. It can also cause back-ups in the city's sewer mains, meaning you, your neighbors, or your favorite restaurant may be without sewer service for several hours or days at a time while the lines are being cleared or repaired. Causing an awful mess that could cost a lot of money to repair.
The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency reports that “grease from restaurants, homes, and industrial sources are the most common cause (47 %) of all reported blockages.”1 When sewer malfunctions occur, raw sewage directly enters the environment untreated and ultimately makes its way into streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. This raw sewage carries excess nutrients as well as bacteria and other pathogens that have a negative impact on human, fish, and wildlife health.
1. 1. National Pretreatment Program – Controlling Fats, Oils, and Grease Discharges from Food Service Establishments. Office of Water, EPA-833-F-12-003, September 2012.
Will hot soapy water flush fog out of my drains?
No amount of hot soapy water can unclog a FOG blockage in your pipes. If you try to pour fats, oils, and grease down the drain with hot water, you are actually making the problem worse. The hot soapy water allows the grease to move a little farther down your pipes and creates a clog in a more difficult to access (and more expensive) place to repair. The water and soap only mixes with the FOG allowing it to travel further before it starts to separate and solidify again. This will still cause problems in your pipes.
Doesn’t my sinks garbage disposal dispose of FOG?
Short answer: No. This breaks up the FOG into smaller particulates which allows it to cling to the pipe walls more effectively.
Can it. Cool it. Throw it away!
• Be extremely careful when handling hot FOG.
• Can the grease. Keep an empty metal soup or coffee can and pour oil and grease into the can. Allow grease to cool in the container before throwing it in the trash.
• Wipe before washing. For greasy pans, pour the grease into a container and use a paper towel or a nonabrasive pan scraper to wipe out the remaining grease in the pan prior to washing.
• Seal the oil. Mix liquid vegetable oil with an absorbent material such as kitty litter or coffee grounds in a sealable container before throwing it in the trash. This will help with future spills that could go into the stormwater system.
• No mess, no plumbing problems, no worries.
• Don’t pour fat, oil or grease down drains or garbage disposals.
• Don’t use hot and/or soapy water to rinse grease off cookware, utensils, dishes or surfaces.
Defend Your Drain
You should always wipe greasy pots and pans with a paper towel or scraper before washing them in the sink. Then use COLD water when washing pots and pans. The tiny amounts of grease left on the pan after wiping with a paper towel will solidify before going down your pipes, making it less likely to stick inside your pipes.
Never pour oils or grease down the drain or garbage disposal. Compost what you can, then scrap the food, oils, grease, and sauces – yes, even in the unlikely event there’s leftover gravy – into the trash.
Remember, the best defense is a fat, oil, and grease free diet for your pipes!
Tips for Businesses Managing FOG
• Strain or filter oil in deep fryers to extend the life of the cooking oil.
• Control the temperature of deep fryers to prevent oil from scorching and extend its life. Less oil in the grease interceptor means money saved in pumping and in new oil purchased.
• Recycle cooking oils and leftover grease into a storage container such as a barrel or bucket. Remember that grease is valuable — grease and oil can be recycled into other useful products. See your Yellow Pages for “grease traps” or “greases” to find grease collection companies or grease trap service providers.
• Instruct staff to be conservative about the use of FOG in food preparation.
• Don’t use your garbage disposal to grind up FOG and flush it down the drain.
• Use dry cleanup methods to reduce water consumption and save money! Remove FOG and food waste from pans by scraping or wiping before using water. Use nonabrasive scrapers to remove FOG from cookware.
• Use absorbent paper to soak up FOG under fryer baskets.
• Use paper towels to wipe down work areas. Cloth towels will accumulate grease that will eventually end up in your drains when washing.
• Handle FOG with care. The fewer drips and spills the safer the work environment is by limiting the potential for slips. Taking care also allows for easier clean up.
• Minimize the use of dish soap in dishwashing operations. Dish soap emulsifies FOG and enables it to pass through a grease interceptor. It will later coagulate in sewer lines.
• Maintain your grease trap. Many restaurants have a grease trap installed in the kitchen. In order to keep your grease trap working properly, you’ll need to have it cleaned periodically, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Wipes Clogged My Pipes!
Flushable cleaning wipes are not so flushable. Not only does this include cleaning wipes but personal care wipes like baby wipes, make up wipes, etc. No biodegradable wipe breaks down as quickly as toilet paper. Biodegradable wipes may take weeks or even months to break down. This usually leads to very large clogs due to the constant buildup of wipes.
• For toilets, use only toilet paper, not wipes. Even wipes marked "flushable" will not break down enough to keep clogs from happening.
• Remember the rule of "3 Ps" - only flush things that start with P - pee, poo and (toilet) paper.
Oklahoma Species. What is worse, threatened, or endangered?
Endangered species are species that are in danger of extinction right now throughout all or at least a significant portion of their range within the United States or even globally. Any activity that could potentially harm these species are required to have consultation and permits by the federal government.
Threatened species are species that are considered likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future.
There are 11 federally endangered, seven federally threatened, two state endangered, and one state threatened species in Oklahoma.
What is the difference in Federal and State Listings?
The two main differences are location and penalties. Species listed on state endangered and threatened lists are in danger of disappearing completely from a particular state and not the species’ entire range. Species listed on federal endangered and threatened lists are in danger of disappearing completely from the species’ entire range which could include multiple states. Respectively each agency has the authority of designation and enforcement for each individual species.
The penalties or violations for harming the species on state lists are usually less severe than those under federal law. Any willful harm to either a federally endangered or threatened species is a federal crime that is punishable by significant fines or possible prison time.
Federal-listed Threatened and Endangered Species:
Federally threatened and endangered species list are organized by county (Pittsburg County) and are maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This agency also Administers the Endangered Species Act of Oklahoma.
Pittsburg county may include:
• American Burying Beatle (Nicrophorus americanus) – endangered
• Interior Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) – endangered
• Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) – threatened
• Arkansas River Shiner (Notropis Girardi) – threatened
For up-to-date information and listings please visit the Endangered Species | Map | State (fws.gov)
State-listed Threatened and Endangered Species:
None, for Pittsburg County.
For up-to-date information and listings please visit the Threatened and Endangered Species | Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (wildlifedepartment.com)
If you see something other than storm water that has been disposed of or dumped into storm sewer or local water way, please contact the Public Works Department at (918) 423-9300 ext. 4990. Someone will investigate. Remember, storm drains are for rain.