Does your business involve pressure washing or hosing down driveways, courtyards, sidewalks, parking lots, and buildings?
Businesses that clean carpets and exterior surfaces are subject to local codes and enforcement actions with regard to illicit discharges. It is illegal to dispose of commercial wash water into the storm drain network.
Washwater can be disposed of in two ways:
- It can be discharged onto landscaped areas, provided the landowner’s permission has been obtained, private sewer connections are not readily available, and there is no runoff and the wash water does not contaminate soil with hazardous pollutants. Or…
- It can be discharged into the sewer system at the customer’s site or service provider’s facility through a private connection only, such as an onsite sink, toilet or lateral cleanout, at a flow rate that complies with your local municipal codes.
As you perform your daily activities, be proactive. Ask yourself, “does this activity directly or indirectly generate pollution?” And, “how can I do this job in such a way that waste and/or wash water and debris do not enter the storm water drainage system?”
Every business that uses hazardous or toxic substances should have a spill prevention and mitigation plan for storage, use, and disposal of chemicals.
Best Practices for Mobile Washing
1: PLAN DISPOSAL OF WASTEWATER
- Determine where you are going to discharge wastewater before starting a new job. Identify where all storm drains are situated at the jobsite, and make sure that no wash water will enter them.
- Locate high and low spots on the property to determine where non-hazardous wash water can be pooled for collection. Decide what is the best method of collection (e.g., berms, stormdrain cover mats, containment pools, vacuums/pumps, vacuum boom, inflatable pipe plug, etc). Never discharge wastewater into a street, ditch, storm drain, or maintenance hole.
- Obtain all necessary permits and authorizations. If you are going to discharge into the sanitary sewer system at the job site, always obtain the property owner’s permission.
2: PRE-CLEAN SURFACES
Use dry methods (e.g., sweeping) for surface pre-cleaning whenever possible. Know which pre-cleaning wastes may be hazardous wastes.
Minimize the amount of water used during washing. Avoid using solvent-based cleaners (especially chlorinated solvent cleaners). Avoid cleaning products that contain hazardous substances or create hazardous waste. Avoid products that may damage paved or coated surfaces.
4: COLLECT WASTEWATER
Reduce and recycle washing compounds whenever possible. Avoid mixing non-hazardous wash water with wash water known to contain hazardous pollutants; doing so may increase disposal costs. Do not leave puddles of wash water on paved surfaces to simply evaporate. Sweep up any visible solids and sediments remaining after wash water has been collected.
5: PROPER DISPOSAL
Never discharge wastewater into a street, ditch, storm drain, or maintenance hole. Use the sewer system or look into special treatment practices for your industry.
The U.S. EPA has several programs designed to help businesses incorporate cost-effective ways to reduce pollution
Contact your local government to find out more about regulations specific to your area and your business.
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