My Cart

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Enter your e-mail address below to receive power washing tips, business ideas, deals, and more in your inbox each week!

Online Form Creator
Compare Products

You have no items to compare.

Environmental Enforcement For Mobile Pressure Washing

ENVIRONMENTAL MOBILE PRESSURE POWER WASHING (Reality of Enforcement)

Metadescription: This article presents an overview of environmental regulations the mobile power wash contractor must follow for washing items not contaminated by hazardous materials. Containment and disposal methods are provided.

Environmental Power Washing - Environmental power washing is the proper environmental disposal of used wash water. Exactly what constitutes proper disposal is defined on a local basis, usually by the local municipality. Mobile power wash recycling is but one of the many techniques used to meet this criteria.

  • Complying with environmental power washing regulations is simple. DISPOSE OF ALL OF YOUR WASH WATER IN A SANITARY SEWER. The hard part comes from all the variations in applying this simple procedure. Because no single system works in all locations, you will need access to many different tools and techniques.
  • The Powerwash.com DVD 504 – “Fleet Washing with Portable Wash Pits and Portable Recycling Systems”, demonstrates environmental power-washing procedures for truck washing (the products or methods in this video may be covered by letters patent).

Table of Contents

ACRONYMS and DEFINITIONS
THE EPA AND ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE
Impact on mobile power wash contractors
SEWER TYPE
STORM WATER PERMITS
NO OFF-PROPERTY DISCHARGE
WASH AREA
DISPOSAL OF WASH WATER TO A SANITARY SEWER
Problems with treatment and transportation
DISPOSAL OF WASH WATER TO STORM DRAINS
RECYCLE WASH TECHNIQUES
SLUDGE DISPOSAL
HYDROCARBON (used oil) DISPOSAL
HAZARDOUS CLASSIFICATION
WASTE OWNERSHIP
WASH WATER PROCESSING EQUIPMENT
1. Wash Water Haulers (WWH)
2. Direct Discharge Units (DDU)
3. Pretreatment Units (PU)
4. Limited Recycle Units (LRU)
5. Total Recycling Units (TRU)
6. Water Control Devices (WCD)
WHAT YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL POWER WASH CUSTOMER WILL REQUIRE
RISK MANAGEMENT
Mobile Pressure Power Washing Environmental Update

ACRONYMS and DEFINITIONS
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
MS4 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (Storm Sewer, i.e. Storm Drain)
NPDES National Pollution Discharge Elimination System
POTW Publicly Owned Treatment Works (Sanitary Sewer Plant)
TCLP Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure extract
Heavy Metals Arsenic, Barium, Boron, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Manganese, Mercury, Nickel, Selenium, Silver, Zinc
Portable Vinyl Wash Pit A Flat Tarp Portable Vinyl Wash Pit
Storm Drain Because of confusion over the terms sanitary sewer and storm sewer, the term storm drain is replacing storm sewer. In this document, both terms are used.
Sand trap Coalescer, Clarifier, Oil/Water Separator, Grease Trap, or Grit Trap Storm

THE EPA AND ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE
Off-property discharge of vehicle wash water is a violation of the Clean Water Act. The daily fines assessed are as follows:

  • $2,000.00/day from cities
  • $10,000/day from states
  • $25,000/day from the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not provide written endorsements of products, processes, or technology. The EPA responsibilities are directed at setting specific objectives (discharge limits) that dischargers must meet to adequately protect the receiving waters of the United States. These objectives will necessarily vary from site to site.

Impact on mobile power wash contractors
City and county governments deal with the EPA and state regulatory agencies concerning the discharge that enters their sewer treatment plants (POTW) and Storm Water, and mobile power wash operators must deal with these city and county governments. Each POTW must meet specific guidelines set by the EPA. In addition, each city must meet specific discharge objectives for their storm water runoff. The EPA does not specify how to meet these discharge objectives. It is the responsibility of each POTW or city to decide what technology, products, and procedures they are going to use to meet the EPA guidelines. This means that the regulations regarding environmental power washing will vary from city to city and sometimes from site to site within the same city.

If wash water is recycled enough times, it will test as hazardous and need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. If this is the case, a mobile power wash contractor may have to obtain a Hazardous Waste Generator Permit. This is not economically feasible. What is economically feasible is to recycle wash water for a short period to time and discharge it to the sanitary sewer while it is still within sanitary sewer discharge limits (what these limits are may vary from site to site), which is what most environmental mobile wash operators are doing. By limiting their washing activities, they do not enter the hazardous classifications. Typically, this is done by limiting washing to cosmetic cleaning of non-hazardous items. They do not degrease, do not use two-step chemicals, do not perform any aluminum brightening, nor do any battery washing as these items may cause heavy metals to exceed sanitary sewer limits and cause wash water to test hazardous.

What follows are the most popular Environmental Mobile Power Wash Options as they are now being enforced and practiced today.

SEWER TYPE
There are three types of sewers, sanitary, storm, and combined. Most cities have a sanitary and a storm sewer system. A sanitary sewer system is what homes are connected to. This system of pipes goes to the sewer treatment plant or publicly owned treatment works (POTW). At the POTW, the sewage is treated and discharged to lakes or streams. This is where your wash water needs to go for treatment before being discharged to lakes and streams.

With a storm sewer system, rainwater enters into gutters along streets and roads, discharging directly into lakes and streams without treatment. Because wash water has not undergone remediation prior to its discharge into the environment, it should not be discharged into a storm sewer.

Some cities have a combined sewer system where the sanitary and storm sewer are one system and all of the sewage and storm water are treated at the POTW. In these areas, wash water can be discharged to storm sewer. You will need to call the sewer department (or its equivalent) in each area you are washing to determine into which system you are discharging.

Most outside drains are storm sewers and most inside drains are sanitary sewer drains but not always. Be sure to know which is which. If your customer does not know, call the Sanitary Sewer Department and they will come out and determine which sewer system each drain is hooked to. In many areas, this service is free.

The capacity and capability of POTW vary greatly, and so do their discharge limits. Discharge limits are determined by many factors including: the size of the body of water into which water is discharged (lakes, rivers, streams, or the ocean), what is discharged, and the amount they are discharging. The larger the body of water, the more relaxed the discharge limits. Because discharge limits and POTW treatment abilities vary, the amount of treatment wash water needs before discharge to sanitary sewers will vary from POTW to POTW.

STORM WATER PERMITS
The portion of the Clean Water Act that is having the greatest impact on mobile power washing is the National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permits, required by the EPA regarding storm water runoff. NPDES permits are storm water management plans. The NPDES permits affecting Mobile Power Washing are the ones required for states, cities, and fleet owners. These permits require the cleaning up of rain and snow water runoff into our lakes and streams. This includes the elimination of pollution from washing operations that enters lakes and streams carried by storm water runoff.

The EPA classifies city and urban areas according to their populations and considers them to be Phase I or Phase II areas. Cities with populations greater than 100,000 are classified as Phase I; urban areas or counties with populations below 100, 000, are classified as Phase II. Generally, individual permits cover Phase I MS4s, and general permits cover Phase II MS4s. These permits include procedures for disposing of wash water. Cities and urban areas have two options for coming into compliance with their discharge limits. They can collect and treat all of their sanitary and storm water, or they can go to the source of the pollution, like mobile power wash contractors and control the discharge. This is the more popular option and it requires discharging wash water into sanitary sewers.

A major part of the Phase I permits is public education in these cities. The most visible part of the public education program involves using environmental inserts and advertising space in local newspapers to provide advice to homeowners regarding better environmental management. This literature includes phone numbers of the local environmental regulators.

Please visit the EPA website at www.epa.gov for complete information.

The American Trucking Association had their inaugural National Conference on Environmental Vehicle Washing, April 6 and 7, 1995 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Powerwash.com of Fort Worth (at that time doing business as Powerwash.com) was a sponsor of that seminar. At the time, all of the companies represented by the 180 participants were in the process of implementing environmentally correct vehicle washing procedures. Companies that were utilizing the services of contract cleaners were going to require that environmentally correct vehicle washing procedures be used. What happened in Fort Worth, Texas was typical across the nation.

In 1993, the Department of Environmental Management tested over 560 storm water sites within the city of Fort Worth. Detergent was discovered in over half of these sites, making detergent the most abundant pollutant in the city. It was determined that cosmetic cleaning was a significant source of these detergents. The EPA gave the city of Fort Worth five years, beginning in 1996, to show a decrease in the pollutants at the 560 sites. If the city did not meet these requirements, the EPA would have required construction of a treatment plant, at the cost of several hundred million dollars, similar to the sewer treatment plant to treat all storm water. As a result, starting in January 2, 1996, all mobile power wash operators conducting business in Fort Worth would have to be license by the city. This license includes a permit to discharge to the sanitary sewer un-concentrated wash water from cosmetic cleaning.

NO OFF-PROPERTY DISCHARGE
Eliminating off-property discharge is the most popular environmental power washing option today. No problem exists if wash water does not leave the property where the washing is performed. However, there are some potential risks with this procedure. They are:

  • When the property is sold, a soil test may be required. Remediation can be extremely expensive.
  • The ground water may be contaminated and require remediation. The potential for this hazard is very high in areas where the ground water is close to the surface as in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston.

If there is off-property runoff, the first offense normally receives a warning, which is given to either the either the contract cleaner or the customer. Second and third offenses carry fines ranging from $800.00 to $1,200.00. Citation procedures vary as some cities fine the companies, while other cities fine the employees. Because most cities are striving for voluntary compliance, fines are rarely given for a first offense.

Some areas allow washing of 1 to 8 vehicles on grassy areas, and rely on nature to remediate the wash water. At the present time, Iowa allows uncontrolled vehicle washing for cosmetic washing with biodegradable detergents. While the state may have decided not to regulate mobile power washing, individual cities may have their own regulations in place.

WASH AREA
The easiest way to go to sanitary sewer is to wash in the customers wash bay or pump your wash water to a wash bay sand trap. Some cities will allow washing on a hard surface and pumping the wash water to the sand trap, while other cities will not. The reasoning behind those cities that do not permit this is the belief that the contractor will not clean up all of the contaminants finishing washing. As a result, when it rains, all of the contaminants wash into the storm sewer drain.

In cities that do not allow washing on a hard surface, you will either have to wash on a portable vinyl wash pit or in a designated area that has been bermed in order to contain the wash water. Some cities will not allow washing on asphalt as detergents may damage this surface. The main components of asphalt are hydrocarbons, and detergents attack hydrocarbons.

DISPOSAL OF WASH WATER TO A SANITARY SEWER
Since the discharge limits of POTW vary so greatly, so do the methods of discharge to them. Some POTW will accept wash water without any pretreatment, or very little pretreatment (like filtering out the sand). Some POTW for cosmetic cleaning require only filtering with a 200-micron dirt and sand filter or a carbon filter. A POTW wants to know the quantity of wash water discharged, and what contaminants are in the water. A water analysis is generally required, costing about $200 to $400. Some POTW will do this test free. Some POTW will accept the wash water without any analysis, requiting one only if a problem arises.

A common method is discharging into the sand traps located at truck washes, coin-op car washes, and restaurants. The problem with this method is that most cities do not want wash water to be transported from the location where it was generated and disposed of at another location because if a problem arises there is not a clear path as to who is at fault. Most cities want the water discharged where it was generated in order to determine liability. Do not discharge to a sand trap without first getting written permission of the owner of the sand trap. If there is not a sand trap on location, the wash water will have to be pretreated before discharge into a sanitary sewer.

Problems with treatment and transportation
There are no regulations clearly defining the parameters of transporting wash water from site to site. Sometimes the cities try to classify wash water in the same category as sand trap (grit trap) services. But these contaminants are not what is being cleaned out or hauled, and wash water almost always tests as non-hazardous. In addition, wash water is classified as SPECIAL WASTE by the EPA. This is a different category than sand trap contaminants.

A misconception exists that biodegradable soaps can be discharged to storm sewers. Biodegrading takes time, and biodegradable detergents may be quite toxic before they biodegrade. There is also a problem with what the soap emulsifies - oils, greases, fats, dirt, pesticides, and insecticides. Biodegradable detergents that contain phosphates may cause some POTW problems because they are good fertilizers and cause algae growth, which depletes oxygen in the water and kills fish. Fish kills are a negative type of publicity the mobile power wash industry does not need. In some areas phosphate free soaps are required.

Most POTW will accept your waste directly. However, this creates an economic problem for commercial waste disposal facilities. They see the POTW as government organizations competing with them, and try to influence legislation requiring wastewater be brought to them for disposal. However, commercial waste disposal facilities tend to pass your waste on to the POTW while charging a fee for this service.

In some areas, commercial waste disposal facilities are your best economic alternative. The can be found in the yellow pages under “Waste Reduction, Disposal and Recycling Service, Industrial”. Costs will vary from location to location.

Check with each POTW for discharge limits. If your wash water is outside the sanitary sewer discharge limits, you may still be able to discharge to the sanitary sewer but have to pay a surcharge.

Some companies have received permits to discharge to leach fields, septic tanks, and injection wells. Recently, health departments in some areas have been going out and testing these sites. Depending on the test results, companies may be required to stop using these sites or remediate the discharge areas. The safest technique is to discharge into a sanitary sewer wherever possible.

Most POTW do not require any pretreatment of wash water when discharging to the sanitary sewer through a truck wash or car wash bay as they use sand traps designed for this purpose.

DISPOSAL OF WASH WATER TO STORM DRAINS
Normally you should never dispose of wash water into a storm drain. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including occasionally washing one or two vehicles on grassy areas, house and building washing (because it is rarely done), vehicle washing at residences, and vehicle washing by charities.

Some cities allow runoff from cold water washing without chemicals, or hot water washing without chemicals (if there is no oil and grease, only dirt) to go into the storm drains, as long as it does not contain hydrocarbons, pesticides, insecticides, or antifreeze. Hot water washing is considered processed water because hot water emulsifies oil and grease. Cold water washing is considered no worse than a rain event. Any oil and grease spots should be pre-cleaned with absorbent clay (kitty litter), and disposed of in the dumpster. Leaves, debris, and dirt should be cleaned up before washing so this contamination does not enter the storm sewer. Storm drain entrances should be screened to catch leaves and debris, and the wash water should pass through an oil absorbent boom or pad in order to absorb any hydrocarbons. No oil sheen should be present after passing through the oil absorbent filter. Not using chemicals can be compensated for by using a zero degree rotating nozzle (such as a ST-58 Turbo Nozzle or a Rotomax Zero Degree Rotating Nozzle). Examples of these types of cleaning jobs include vehicles on dealer lots (dust only), sidewalks, shopping malls, parking lots, buildings, and homes.

Some cities allow building washing with acid cleaners if the acid is neutralized before entering the storm drain. Typically, neutralization is done with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), soda ash (sodium carbonate), or an alkaline detergent wash such as R109, or DNB 1430, instead of a clear water rinse. In other cities the cleaning is done with cold water, no chemicals, and rotating zero degree nozzles.

RECYCLE WASH TECHNIQUES
Most recycle units clean water to the point where it is suitable for washing but not rinsing. Recycle units that clean water to rinse water quality are too expensive for contract cleaners. Therefore, rinsing will have to be done with fresh water. Normally, recycle units do not remove detergents, the total dissolved solids, or heavy metals. While this means that your detergent usage will decrease, it also means that if you recycle the wash water long enough, it will test as hazardous and have to be disposed of at a Hazardous Waste Facility, and you may have to obtain a Hazardous Waste Generator permit. To avoid this, recycle the wash water only long enough so that it is still within the discharge limits of the sanitary sewer and before it tests as hazardous. A popular approach of many environmental power wash contractors is to limit their business to cosmetic cleaning of nonhazardous items, and not to do heavy degreasing, acid or two-step washing, heavy brushing, or aluminum brightening as these activities create problems with heavy metals and hydrocarbons. For cosmetic cleaning of nonhazardous items, you should be able to recycle for one or two days and still stay under sanitary sewer discharge limits by using filtration and absorption technologies such as Vacuum Sludge Filtering Systems, and the Recycle 16.

Evaporation and drag off for fleet washing are normally 30 to 50 percent. This loss is made up with rinse water. By using good water management practices, your rinse water use will not be greater than your loss due to evaporation and drag off. Water loss due to evaporation in doing flat work is related to temperature and how far the water travels over a hot concrete surface. Water loss here will normally range from 20 to 60 percent.

As previously stated, washing will have to be done with recycled water with detergent in it because the recycling systems do not remove detergents. The longer you use the wash water, the harder it is to rinse off, even though you are using a fresh water rinse. To avoid this problem, contract cleaners use their recycle units as pretreatment units for direct sanitary sewer discharge. Problems have also arisen from the practice of pre-spraying equipment with a heavy detergent then using a fresh water wash, over burdens a recycling system with water. This procedure works only if the recycling unit is used as a pretreatment unit for direct discharge to the sanitary sewer. This also applies for heavy degreasing, two-step chemical washing, and aluminum brightening.

SLUDGE DISPOSAL
The least expensive method is to collect your dirt, sand, and debris right off of the wash surface or pad before it enters your wash water pumping equipment. A $20.00 shovel is an inexpensive method for picking up dirt and debris.

Other available disposal methods may include:

  • Putting the sludge in the customer’s sand trap (if one is available). Get permission before doing so.
  • Let the dirt, sand, and sludge dry and leave it for the customer to put in his dumpster. Presently, landfills cannot accept liquid waste. In Texas, up to 220 pounds of dried sludge can be placed in a dumpster per month. If the customer is generating other special waste, this dirt and sludge will have to be added to this total. The customer should get permission from their refuse company to follow this procedure.
  • Put the sludge in a 55-gallon drum and have a licensed sand trap service haul the sludge to a proper disposal site.
  • Have the customer haul his own sludge to a proper disposal site. You cannot haul it for him unless you are licensed waste hauler. The waste disposal site will manifest every load, and if the generator of the waste and the hauler are not the same, a registration waste transporter number is required.

Sand Trap, Grit Trap, and Grease Trap Services are listed under “Grease Trap Service” and “Mud Trap Service” in the yellow pages.

HYDROCARBON (used oil) DISPOSAL
The EPA has classified used oil (hydrocarbons) as non-hazardous if it is destined for recycling, re-fining, reprocessing, or is burned for energy recovery. Therefore, dispose of used-oil in one of these ways. The exact classification of used oil will vary from area to area. California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont regulate used oil as a hazardous waste. Some states designate used oil as a special waste, and have rules more stringent than the EPA including Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Finally, some counties may have even more stringent rules concerning used oils. Always check with your local municipality for the regulations regarding hydrocarbon disposal.

For mobile power washing that is limited to cosmetic cleaning of vehicles and flat work, there is very little hydrocarbon accumulation. In fact, the dirt and sludge will absorb almost all of the free hydrocarbons.

In Texas, waste oil spills of nine gallons or more will require reporting to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC). Therefore, leave the hydrocarbons with your customer or only transport small quantities.

Contact the local waste oil recycling company to find out their requirements for disposal of waste oil. Generally, there will be an extra charge for oil with dirt, sand, and water in it. Find these companies in your yellow pages under “Oils-Refined” and “Oils-Waste”.

HAZARDOUS CLASSIFICATION
You may be required to conduct a TCLP test to determine if your generated sludge or wash water needs to be classified as hazardous. To date, all known tests have resulted in non-hazardous classification of wash water and waste from cosmetic washing.

Transporting 1000 pounds of hazardous chemicals used by some contract cleaners requires a commercial license with a hazardous endorsement. Check with your DOT office for information regarding how these rules will affect you.

Several companies doing cosmetic washing have had a problem with zinc creating a “Hazardous” classification. The zinc was not from their washing operation but from the city inlet supply. Older, galvanized pipes will contaminate the water. Check on this before beginning an operation.

Remember, you are in the environmental business and this may cause you to be more closely inspected. A collection of old batteries, old tires, or used oil may result in classification of storing hazardous waste. Keeping your property cleaned is the best way to avoid these headaches.

WASTE OWNERSHIP
Ownership of any hazardous waste or special waste regulated by state or local agencies belongs to the generator of that waste, and ownership cannot be transferred under any circumstances. Therefore, your customer owns the waste from your washing operations and is responsible for that waste in perpetuity, even after a licensed waste hauler picks it up. This means that if the licensed hauler illegally disposes of his waste, the generator is still held liable for clean up. At present, the only exception to this is the state of Oregon, where ownership can be designated as either the contract cleaner or the customer.

WASH WATER PROCESSING EQUIPMENT

There are six distinct categories of wash water handling equipment, they are:

  • Wash Water Haulers (WWH)- This equipment simply picks up the wash water and hauls it to a proper disposal site. Normally, this method consists of a sump pump or a wet/dry vacuum with a sump pump, which pumps the water into a 500 to 2000-gallon holding tank for transportation to the disposal site.
  • Direct Discharge Units (DDU)- These units are sump pumps or wet/dry vacuums with a sump pump, which pumps the wash water directly to sanitary sewer. Little or no pretreatment is done. Most systems will filter out leaves and debris before discharge to the sanitary sewer. Products of this type include the WPSP-25 wash pit sump pump, Wet/Dry Vac with a Sump Pump, and the VSF-8 Vacuum Sludge Filtering Systems.
  • Pretreatment Units (PU)- These units pre-treat wash water, and then discharge it to a sanitary sewer. Equipment of this kind include the VSF-8 Vacuum Sludge Filtering Systems, Recycle 8A, Recycle 16, and the Model 2000 Recycle System.
  • Limited Recycle Units (LRU)- These units are designed to recycle wash water for a limited time before it is necessary to discharge it into a sanitary sewer. Generally, they recycle wash water for one or two days. The longer the recycle time required, the more expensive the equipment. The technique is to limit the recycling time so that the wash water is below the discharge limits of the sanitary sewer. For cosmetic cleaning this is usually eight to sixteen hours of recycle washing. For this the best examples are the Recycle 8A, Recycle 16, Model 2000, and the Recycle 1, 2, 3 Mobile Wash Rigs.
  • Total Recycling Units (TRU)- Total Recycling Units that produce rinse water quality water are too expensive for normal mobile power wash operations. These units are commercially profitable only in those situations where the increased cost of operations can be passed along to the customer.
  • Water Control Devices (WCD)- Water control devices are items that pick up or control the flow of wash water so that wash water can be properly disposed of. They are:
    • Sump pumps
    • Wet/dry vacuums with internal sump pumps
    • Vacuum sludge filtering systems
    • Vacuum booms
    • Portable dams
    • Drain covers
    • Portable Vinyl Wash Pits
    • Oil Absorbent Pillows, Booms and Pads
    • Storm Sewer Drain Screens

WHAT YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL POWER WASH CUSTOMER WILL REQUIRE

  • Letter of approval of your Environmental Power Wash Procedures
  • Letter of Acceptance for your Environmental Wash Waste

Depending upon the knowledge of your customers (generally the larger the customer the more knowledgeable they are), they will require a letter of approval for your wash procedures and a letter of acceptance for your waste. In most large cities, these letters can be obtained from the Storm Water Department and the Sanitary Sewer Department.

Mobile power wash contractors willing to invest the time, money, and equipment necessary in order to offer environmental washing services, and willing to obtain the certification letters from regulating authorities, have a tremendous competitive advantage. For these operators, it is possible to double or triple their business in a year. Their first advantage generally will be increased enforcement of the Clean Water Act for no off property discharge. Since they are the only ones having an approved procedure, recommendations are easier to get. Of course, this exclusive position will only last until others obtain approval but by that time, you should have already established your reputation. Powerwash.com has helped many contract cleaners in almost every state implement this process.

RISK MANAGEMENT
If the Clean Water Act is enforced as it is written, homeowners will no longer be able to wash their automobiles in front of their homes and discharge their wash water to the storm drain. Of course, the public is not ready to pay this price to clean up the environment. However, the coin-op car wash operators are pushing for this very thing to happen because it will increase their business (revenue stream). They have been successful in several areas in stopping charitable organizations from conducting their fund raising car wash activities when the wash water was disposed of in the storm drain.

The exact mobile power wash procedures that satisfy the Clean Water Act are not clearly defined and enforcement procedures fall between the cracks of existing regulations. You can find as many interpretations of the regulations as you can find environmental regulators.

What happens if you are cited for improper washing procedures and your competitor is not? Normally this puts you at a competitive disadvantage with customers who are not environmentally conscious. These customers will probably go with the lowest bid. Environmentally correct washing is more expensive and puts you at a competitive disadvantage. Many Mobile Power Wash Contractors have been faced with this problem. Now they are in a position of not being able to provide for their families because of an uneven playing field. This is not an unusual situation and it is happening over and over again as environmentally correct washing procedures are being implemented. Again, you are affecting the revenue stream. Because of this economic pressure, it is not unusual for competitors to turn each other in for improper washing procedures. Taking photographs, videotaping, and calling regulating authorities about improper washing procedures by a competitor or customer is not unusual. This will probably continue as long as there is such a wide variation in interpretation and implementation of environmental washing procedures in order to try to satisfy the conditions of the Clean Water Act.

Mobile Pressure Power Washing Environmental Update
Environmental power washing is not just mobile recycled pressure washing on a Portable Vinyl Wash Pit. These are but two elements of environmental power washing.

Simply stated, environmental power washing involves pressure washing with "no off-property discharge" and discharging your wash water to a sanitary sewer. This definition applies to most pressure washing operations being done within environmental guidelines. "No off-property discharge" includes both above and below ground, and discharge to sanitary sewers means any location that is properly approved to receive wash water.

The most common discharge location is a municipal sanitary sewer system (or POTW). The preferred entry point is a Sand Trap, or a Grease Trap. Many municipalities also allow other points of entry including slop sinks, mop sinks, sanitary sewer clean outs, commodes, inside floor drains, etc. For power wash contractors of the 21st Century, water management is as important as pressure washing and they will have to be knowledgeable in multiple methods of proper water management, and to have more than one type of device for capturing, controlling, and cleaning wash water. Common water control devices include:

  • Recycling Systems;
  • Pretreatment or sewer discharge systems
  • Limited Recycling Systems;
  • Wash Pits (portable vinyl wash pads)
  • Vacuum Sludge Filtering Systems
  • Wet-Dry Vacuums
  • Sump Pumps
  • Drain Covers
  • Portable Dams
  • Vacu-booms;
  • Oil Absorbent Pads
  • Booms
  • Pillows and tubes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Filter Tubs
  • Buckets
  • Pans
  • Squeegees

These may be used alone or in whatever combination performs best.

Many municipalities will now accept wash water with minimal pretreatment because the impact of wash water from contract cleaners on the on the POTW is insignificant. However, each municipality has the authority to determine what is acceptable within its city limits. If you are in a metropolitan area where there are many municipalities, each one may have a different set of environmental pressure washing guidelines, and as a result, you will need to design all sorts of devices to control water flow. Sometimes that may be just using the terrain and natural drainage to catch the water at a low spot to prevent off-property discharge. At other times, using a wet/dry vacuum and vacuuming up the water before off property discharge may be necessary. Evaporation is also a valuable tool. Contractors have used evaporation effectively by letting wash water make a long run across concrete and then capturing it just before it leaves the property. Concrete clean up is all that is left. Properly planned, a contractor can wash for several hours and only have to recover less than 55 gallons of wash water, with off property discharge prevented, wash water discharged to sanitary sewer, and environmental guidelines met. In most locations, if the wash water does not exit the property it does not enter the jurisdiction of regulating authorities.

One thought on “ Environmental Enforcement For Mobile Pressure Washing”

  • Dianna

    You can do what I did, which is to carefully check out the all of the data that is out there, Consider all of the
    pros and cons, and try it. It is important for these truck drivers to find any way that they can to improve fuel mileage.
    Hongxing Company has been committed to the R&D, and production of
    dryer machine.

Comments