Today’s post is by Ivy Ray, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.
Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974 to protect drinking water. This act also protects rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells. There are approximately 54,000 public water systems that serve the same people year-round. Most residences, including homes, apartments, and condominiums in cities, small towns, and mobile home parks are serviced by Community Water Systems. The safety of these water systems is detrimental to our health, and the health of our ecological environment.
Why should we be concerned with vehicle washwater?
Washwater from vehicle/equipment cleaning activities may contain significant quantities of oil and grease, suspended solids, heavy metals, and organics, as well as pollutants from detergents. These pollutants can be toxic and harmful to living organisms, including fish. The ingestion of the affected fish by people can also be harmful. Washwater from pressure washing and steam cleaning are likely to have more pollutants than cold, low-pressure water.
Oil and grease contain hydrocarbon compounds, some of which can injure or kill aquatic life even at low concentrations. Oil and grease can also coat fish gills and prevent oxygen from entering water, starving fish and other aquatic life.
Some detergents may contain metals such as arsenic. Low concentrations of dissolved metals can be toxic to living organisms. Detergents contain emulsifiers that break up oil particles. Emulsifiers can also cause harm to aquatic life. Many detergents also contain nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. High nutrient levels in streams and lakes can harm water quality by stimulating excess weed and algae growth. This overgrowth causes unpleasant odors and scents, and depletes oxygen levels necessary to support fish life.
Washwater discharge options
There are three options available for the disposal of vehicle washwater (one is not recommended).
■ Preferred option: Zero discharge, or closed-loop water recycling
■ Second option: Discharge to a municipal wastewater system
■ Third option (not recommended): Discharge to land or ground
Of these options, zero discharge, or the use of water recycling systems is the preferred option and is strongly encouraged. The second most preferred option is to discharge to a municipal wastewater system. (Program Development Services Section, Revised November 2012).
The International Carwash Association has completed a two-year study that is designed to gather and analyze data regarding wastewater discharges, as well as contaminant levels in solid wastes. Professional car washing is unique in the fact that it has the capability of collecting both discharges of water and solid waste. (Chris Brown, Water Conservation Consultant, 2002).
The SDWA sets up multiple barriers against pollution, but the public is responsible for helping local water suppliers to set priorities, make decisions on funding and system improvements, and establish programs to protect drinking water sources. Water systems across the nation rely on citizen advisory committees, rate boards, volunteers, and civic leaders to actively protect this resource in every community in America.
For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.
We look forward to your comments.
Works Cited —————————————————
Chris Brown, Water Conservation Consultant. (2002). Water Effluent and Solid Waste Characteristics in the Professional Car Wash Industry. Chicago: International Carwash Association. Retrieved from https://www.carwash.org/docs/default-document-library/water-effluent-amp-solid-waste-characteristics-in-the-professional-car-wash-industry.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Program Development Services Section. (Revised November 2012). Vehicle and Equipment Washwater Discharges/Best Management Practices Manual. Olympia: Washington State Department of Ecology. Retrieved from https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/95056.html