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City has new hire in 'cease the grease' role

Seth Goad, new environmental services coordinator, poses with Amy Huffman, who is leaving that job, and Utilities Director Lee Smith. Seth Goad, new environmental services coordinator, poses with Amy Huffman, who is leaving that job, and Utilities Director Lee Smith.

The city of Hendersonvillehas hired a new Environmental Services Coordinator to replace the water department official who plans to take a year off to travel.

Amy Huffman, who has been the city’s environmental services coordinator for the past 2½ years, is taking a year off to travel with her husband. She will be handing over the reins to Seth Goad, a geologist and has been a consultant in the private sector for the past eight years.

A part of the Water and Sewer Department, the environmental services coordinator is responsible for monitoring industrial and commercial sewer users as well as administering a variety of programs that help protect the city’s water and sewer systems. The environmental services coordinator oversees the industrial pretreatment program, FOG (fat, oils and grease) program, backflow and cross-connection control program, water conservation program and septage permitting program.

“You’re the protector of the sewer and instructor to the public,” Huffman said. “We make sure that industries, businesses and residents are utilizing the sewer system correctly.”

“Amy has done a wonderful job,” Utilities Director Lee Smith said. “She is very good with our industrial customers and restaurants. She holds people responsible but does it in a very professional way.” Lee explained that Goad has been training with Amy for the past two weeks and is expected to do a great job administering the various programs, including the City’s relatively new backflow prevention program.

The City of Hendersonville’s Backflow Prevention Program was initiated in 2018 to help measure health hazard risk of new industrial and commercial customers regarding chemicals and processes that could affect the city’s water system. The environmental services coordinator works with businesses and residents to reduce the amount of fat, oil and grease that enters the sewer system. These substances build up over time in sewer lines and cause back-ups, leading to expensive repairs and potential problems throughout the collection system and treatment plant.

“When we learn about new restaurants and businesses coming online, we touch base with them and discuss the kind of grease trap they’ll need and best practices that can help prevent blockages,” Huffman said, who has crusaded for kitchens to "cease the grease" as much as possible.

Below are some steps that residents can take to minimize the impact of fat, oils and grease buildup in the sewer system. These tips can also minimize malfunctions and issues in private septic systems as well.

Don’t pour fats, oils, grease or food scraps down the drain, even in small quantities and even if you have a garbage disposal.
Cover the kitchen sink drain with a catch basket and empty contents into the garbage as needed.
Place oil and grease in sealable collection containers. Once collection containers are full, dispose of properly in the trash.
Recycle used cooking oil at the Henderson County Convenience Center.
Do not rely on hot water to push fats, oil, and grease through the pipes. It won’t clear your pipes, and you will still experience clogs.