When will you be banned from cleaning vehicles in your facility? It's happening more and more often. Companies have been banned from washing vehicles on their property.
Recently I was in Montreal with a customer who had their drains sealed by the city. Not only could they not wash their vehicles, they could not even use water in their mechanics garage. This is becoming more prevalent across North America, and we are being called to solve these issues.
The first issue is allowing dirty water from vehicles into the sewer system. Second is the amount of water used to wash, usually measured by gallons/litres per minute.
Water is becoming the next carbon footprint measurement in industry as it is becoming more expensive for cities to process and clean. According to statistics, household usage is dropping constantly as shower heads, toilets and water taps are much more efficient allowing pressurized water to wash with less water and more pressure.
Now it is industry's turn to begin to look at ways water is being unnecessarily wasted. All levels of government are under pressure for cost containment. For any city to have to build water treatment facilities, the cost is in the millions with some reaching a billion dollars. Inspectors are on high alert to ensure that industry not conforming to not wasting water or having the city process dirty water, will fine the offenders.
The other issue is allowing the wash water directly flowing into storm sewers. This is not only a moral issue of sending chemicals directly into the fragile eco-system, it is illegal. The EPA in USA enacted laws on discharge and sewage decades ago.
The following are examples of discharges that are prohibited without a permit:
- Power (Pressure) Washer that cleans such things as equipment or a parking lot and discharges the process water into a storm drain
- Car Wash that allows wash water to flow into a storm drain
As many know, it is illegal to wash your car on your driveway or city street in many cities, states and provinces currently. Check out the city of Toronto or Calgary for their bylaws on their websites.
It is not a matter of if, but when will you be asked to control the water use in your building, shop or property. Old technology of oil separators is not enough to clean water. The three-step separator is a smelly, messy and costly system that requires contaminated materials to be hauled out of your facility and disposed at costly sites to render the contaminants neutral.
Today there is technology available to reduce the amount of water to wash your vehicles and complete water treatment systems that can result in "zero discharge", recycling and reusing all the water in your facility. Cleaning methods with proper chemicals can make you clean, green and compliant.