Wastewater Disposal Requirements For Fleet Washing
Whether you own five trucks or fifty, routine fleet washing is crucial to maintaining your company’s appearances as well as protecting your investment. Sustaining a clean fleet can help cut down on maintenance expenses by keeping vehicles in top working condition, extend the life of your trucks, and reflect a professional image to clients and onlookers. Fleet washing, when done properly, is no easy or quick task. If you’re contemplating doing it yourself, or having your staff take care of their assigned/own vehicles, you first need to block out a period for your workers to have time to complete the cleaning. Once that’s been figured out, you need to gather the correct equipment, chemicals and review the proper procedures on how to work with said items. Finally, and probably the biggest challenge of all, you need to determine how you will be dealing with the resulting wash water.
In days gone by, before we were made aware of the effects polluting our runoff water supplies have on the environment or the individuals living there, tossing wastewater – of any kind – was simple. Just let it drain into the sewage, or use it to water your flowers, no biggie! However, nowadays, most municipalities have regulations in place when it comes to dealing with wash water. Portland is definitely one of these cities, sporting their own list of detailed requirements and strict codes you must adhere to when disposing of wash water caused by fleet washing. Ignoring these protocols can result in all sorts of penalties that will, in turn, place strain on your company. Listed below are your options when discarding wash water within the city limits of Portland.
Wash Water Restrictions
To begin, there are numerous places wash water cannot be allowed to enter or be disposed of at. These places include:
- Stormwater systems – i.e. catch basins, storm sewers, storm drains: wastewater is prohibited from entering any kind of stormwater runoff system. These systems often drain into rivers and streams with little to no filtration provided, meaning those pollutants will be dumped directly into city waterways.
- Spilling Out Onto City Property: wash water that is being directed onto any city sidewalk, street, easement or right-of-way without first getting approval from the city is prohibited– even if it is ending up in a dead-end collection spot.
- Onsite Sanitary Sewer Drain: because your wash water contains pollutants such as oil, grease and road debris, disposing of the water via an onsite sanitary drainage system will result in contaminated wastewater that cannot be properly filtered or disposed of. Hence, why this is not allowed.
- Landscaped Areas: you cannot dispose of wastewater by spreading it across grass or other vegetation (even if it’s on your property). Not only will the wash water do more harm than good when it comes to your landscaping, it can also allow the polluted water to seep into ground water reserves, leading to a much bigger problem.
Wash Water Collection
Since allowing wash water to runoff into storm drains or various other locations will result in serious consequences, the next best method is collection. There are a few options for collection available when completing fleet washing (which results in large quantities of wastewater).
- Dead-End Sump: if you happen to have a dead-end sump or grit trap on your property, you can corral the wash water there. But your work doesn’t end there. For this method to meet state and city regulations, the wastewater you’ve collected must be pumped or siphoned out and disposed with appropriately (I’ll cover how to do that here shortly).
- Vacuum Recovery System: you can collect runoff water by using a portable vacuum recovery unit to collect wastewater (also known as a vacuum boom or berm). While setting one of these up can be a bit of a complicated process, when used correctly, this method is very effective. However, for a system that is large enough to handle the amount of wash water that occurs after fleet washing, even your cheapest models are going to cost thousands of dollars out of pocket. The next best option is renting a unit but finding one, that fits your requirements for temporary use, can be next to impossible.
- Water Recycling Receptacle: this is a more mobile version of a vacuum recovery system, usually in the form of a buggy with a convenient trailer hook-up. With this said, these machines are prohibitively expensive to purchase outright, and while renting one isn’t cheap, it still requires extra manpower (and training) to operate.
Disposing Of Wash Water
Once you’ve finished washing your fleet and properly collected the resulting wash water, it’s time to dispose of it in the correct manner.
- An Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility: ensure that the facility you are traveling to is permitted to accept and treat the wash water.
- Water Recycling System: if you happen to have a water recycling system laying around (which would be quiet the feat, considering a used model online can cost you a whopping $20,000) certainly utilize this system to properly filter your wash water. This water can be used again for cleaning purposes in the future.
- Sanitary Sewers: according to Portland city code, all “businesses that use pressure washing to… clean surfaces and would like to discharge the resulting wash water to the sanitary sewer must apply for and receive a mobile washer discharge authorization”.
Let Someone Else Handle It
As mentioned earlier, failure to adhere to these rules can result in investigations, penalties and required corrective action from the city. That’s quiet the list of things that could go wrong, and I didn’t even touch on the actual fleet washing process. Besides proper water collection methods, you still need the right equipment, detergents, and tools to complete washing your fleet – not to mention, the amount of time it’ll take your employees to wash the fleet. So, save yourself (and your employees) the effort and avoid the list of potential fines due to improper wastewater disposal by allowing the professionals to take on the job instead. At Snugs, we have been washing trucks and industrial equipment for years. With our specialty 2-step process, custom built equipment (including a self-contained wash water recovery system), expert crew and professional standards, there isn’t a better option for fleet washing around. For a sparkling clean fleet without the headache, give Snugs Services a call today!
Snugs Pro Wash, Inc, dba SNUGS Services, has been providing high quality Pressure Washing Services in Portland, OR since 1995. Started as a residential pressure washing and roof cleaning service, SNUGS is now one of the leading exterior cleaning companies in the Northwest. From our humble beginnings as a man with a truck and a trailer we have grown to become a multi-million dollar company serving corporate customers, name brands, and mom and pop companies alike.