Car washing can be a significant cause of water pollution if it is not adequately controlled. Using soaps and solvents to clean cars is an effective way of removing dirt and grease, but they also wash toxic pollutants into the wastewater.
The Australian Car Wash Association (ACWA) report that washing a single car can produce 750 millilitres of contaminated sludge. Commonly, this contains hydrocarbons (fuel and grease residues), surfactants, and heavy metals including lead, copper, and zinc. If car wash waters are not properly controlled, they can run into stormwater drainage routes, potentially polluting rivers or damaging sewage systems.
When a car is washed at a commercial facility, strict regulations are in place to ensure that contaminated water is collected, treated, and disposed of appropriately. Businesses that regularly wash down vehicles must have measures in place to comply with stringent regulations and prevent the pollution of stormwater systems. Companies who fail to comply with the relevant regulations risk fines and prosecution.
Therefore, if you are operating any kind of car washing facility, it is important to ensure that you remain fully compliant with the regulations. As an added benefit, you will be able to give your customers and neighbours reassurance that you are operating in an environmentally friendly manner.
The right water management system depends on your situation and requirements, but Trade Enviro can provide expert advice to help you find the best solution for your needs.
Car wash wastewater treatment systems
Mobile Wash Bay Solutions
For smaller or temporary operations, a mobile wash bay may be the ideal solution. These portable wash bays (or water containment mats) are often used by smaller businesses that have a requirement for vehicle washing.
Trade Enviro supply a range of mobile wash bays which can be built to meet your specific requirements. These durable wash mats are highly resistant to punctures, tears and chemicals, ensuring wash waters are safely contained. The inclusion of sidewalls and bunding gives added containment, and groundsheets are available for applications on rough terrain.
These systems are an economical choice for small scale and temporary operations. They are also portable meaning you can relocate the system to suit your needs.
Mobile Wash Bays are sold as a standalone product or Trade Enviro can supply a full-scale wash system which includes the wash bay, treatment systems, pumps and controls. Treatment systems are not always required, but it can be more economical in the longer term compared to the cost of contractor pumping and off-site disposal of the wastewater.
The wash mats are tough, but they are not totally indestructible. They will eventually wear out, especially if subject to heavy use, or if they are used on uneven ground. If you need a more long-lasting solution, then you might want to consider a permanent wash area.
Automated diversion systems
Automated diversion systems are ideal for permanent washdown facilities, as they can help ensure that contaminated water is always captured. This is more reliable than depending on physically operating a valve at the start and end of each activity.
The DD600 Automated Wash Down Diversion System is ideal for permanent open-air wash bays. When wash taps are turned on, this triggers the opening of a valve diverting all the wash water to a holding tank, preventing pollutants from entering the stormwater drains.
Once you have finished working and completed wash down of the area, the valve automatically closes, meaning that any rain waters will flow to the stormwater drainage system as normal.
The DD600 is generally installed in conjunction with a treatment system to ensure the collected waters are correctly handled before discharge via a sewer connection.
The FF600 First Flush Diversion system is another option. It is similar to the DD600, but with an added control feature that handles the first flush of water occurring in a rainfall event. This is ideal for larger wash areas where it might be impractical to hose down the full area at the end of each use. Instead, the diversion control will ensure the first flush of rainwater is captured avoiding contaminating the stormwater drains. The system can be programmed to accommodate the necessary volume depending on your site wash surface area and regulatory requirements.
Automated diversion systems are ideal for sites washing large numbers of vehicles. The expense of installing the system is offset by the reduced operating costs, making this an economical solution in many cases. You also get the added benefit of peace of mind that the system will deal with your contaminated water, and you avoid the risk of human error causing potentially costly pollution incidents.
For all wastewater systems, servicing is required to ensure the system continues to work as designed. All elements of the system should be serviced including pumps, diversion systems, holding tanks and any treatment systems. At Trade Enviro, we recommended that servicing is carried out every three months, and we can schedule the service to cover all features of your washdown system at the same time to reduce costs and downtime.
Whatever vehicle wash requirements you have, Trade Enviro can give you advice on the best option to meet your needs and budget, ensuring you are fully compliant and environmentally friendly.