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Washwater recovery tools & techniques

Mike Schoeben

New member
This is going to be a reality (if it isn't already) for all PW contractors, so lets help each other out by sharing what works and what doesn't. Real world experiences and solutions will save everyone time and money. Pictures would be very helpful to those trying to learn. Since we are all over the country, maybe share who the enforcement agency is in your area also.


Minnesota - MPCA(MN pollution Control Agency)
7 County metro -The Metropolitan Council
Hennepin County - Henn Co Environmental Division

I have been checked by the latter two while doing commercial cleaning, and was glad I was in compliance at the time. The pictures show a job I was checked on, and they determined that I had taken the proper precautions to prevent a wash water discharge. Simple berms and oil socks combined with a sealed storm grate was sufficient for this job. The business was responsible for disposal of the used oil socks. Simple and EZ.
 

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Florin Nutu

New member
What do you do with the pooled up wash water when done? pump it into a tank? on the landscape? Sewer? Ive done mostly residential up to now and have been able to pump it into the landscape after its been pooled via a sump pump and hose. Getting into commercial a little more and wondering where to divert the water to.
 

Mike Schoeben

New member
On the job in the pictures, no water pooled up. The storm grate was 75' away from the wash area, and 85 degrees helped to evaporate all the water.

As a rule, we never remove the water from the job site. Several methods are acceptable and we mostly filter the washwater and discharge to the ground in landscaped areas or grass. Also, we've discharged to sanitary sewer, and to holding tanks at job sites. We always let the business deal with their waste. We collect and filter, but they do the disposal if necessary. Each job is unique as to how to deal with used wash water. The sump pump and hose are a great low-cost method, but I would add some kind of filtering for oils if discharging to the ground. If your able to use a sanitary sewer, you'll need to filter for particulates also. Obviously, you need to know the regulations in the area you're working to ensure that you're doing it right, so check with the local sewer operators for what they allow.
 

Pete Marentay

UAMCC Associate Member
Hey, Big Mike, did I understand you to say you get rid of the oil socks after the job? If that is the case, I want you to know that you don't need to. We tell our customers to keep re-using an oil sock until it weighs about ten times what a new one weighs. They might look bad (and they don't smell real nice either!) but they can keep on absorbing oil for weeks or months.
 

Mike Schoeben

New member
Pete,
I leave the socks in a 5 gal pail with lid at each job site. They are marked with the appropriate label "used oil waste" and I reuse them when servicing the next time. If their waste hauler happens to come between my visits, they'll take the container, and I start over with new ones. I cannot haul these used socks on our trucks, as they are hazardous waste, and the fine is steep if stopped by the commercial unit of our state's DOT. I know this sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but until you've had a DOT stop, you have no idea how far they crawl up your rear. The socks are relatively inexpensive and I let the managers at the stores know that if they have a oily spill of some sort, to use the sock to absorb the mess, then call me ASAP. They can also be wrung out for extended use.
 

Daniel H

New member
I know this might sound crazy but it works, I have used "expanding foam" in a can from places like home depot.... It works great around storm drains.. dries in mins.. and pops right up when your done
 

Mike Schoeben

New member
I know this might sound crazy but it works, I have used "expanding foam" in a can from places like home depot.... It works great around storm drains.. dries in mins.. and pops right up when your done
I really like the idea but, I'm pretty sure your local enforcement officer would have a problem with it. Any residue left after 'popping" it would likely find its way into the storm drain, and they don't like that :headshakesmile-fast Also, I don't know if they would consider the foam an acceptable barrier to prevent accidental release? Usually the drain must be totally covered to comply. Foam would be alot easier to apply than heavy sand or water berms and such for directing water where you want it to go..... something to look into
 

Daniel H

New member
I really like the idea but, I'm pretty sure your local enforcement officer would have a problem with it. Any residue left after 'popping" it would likely find its way into the storm drain, and they don't like that :headshakesmile-fast Also, I don't know if they would consider the foam an acceptable barrier to prevent accidental release? Usually the drain must be totally covered to comply. Foam would be alot easier to apply than heavy sand or water berms and such for directing water where you want it to go..... something to look into
Mike, There is residue left behind the only thing left is a very very small part of the foam which can be scuffed up with your foot and the wind will blow it away.. as far as it being "acceptable" in Tennessee it is... there are no laws yet describing what I have to use to stop the water entering the drain.. just that the waste water better not end up their..
If a sand filled "dam" is ok...the foam has to be because the foam actually bonds to the surface preventing any thing entering the drain...
 

Mike Schoeben

New member
there are no laws yet describing what I have to use to stop the water entering the drain.. just that the waste water better not end up their..
Good point Daniel. I'm just playing Devil's advocate here, and from experience. If you get checked, and some day you will, they find all sorts of weird stuff to dog you about. I believe Larry Hinckley posted in another thread about how recovery equipment suppliers, waste haulers, etc., have these regulators ears. This means that they don't want us using simple common sense solutions, they want us to use their methods, and equipment. Total BS in my book, but it is what it is :saai:. I have to admit, the foam is a brilliant idea, and I'm definitely going to test it out. A can of foam is way lighter than a sand snake or drain cover.

I've been told that duct tape and plastic is acceptable, and told it wasn't. This just points to the fact that there are NO set, or standardized methods on how to achieve compliance. As always, something is better than nothing. It would be great if the UAMCC and other advocates for our industry could provide the state agencies with a set of BMP's they could adopt and hand down to regulators. Until this happens, we will have wildly different rules to abide by.

On a side note, I was doing some research yesterday, and came across a budget document for a MN agency (Clean Water Council of the MPCA)that infers that they are increasing the budget for monitoring activities, from 2.1mil to 14.6mil through 2010.
 

Chris Tharpe

New member
If I am not mistaken the garbage disposal companies have certification for hazardous waste. The debris can be thrown into the dumpsters when your done washing however the socks you will need to dispose of at a different location. My area has drop off locations for used oil and should be capable of taking in those types of items.
Pete,
I leave the socks in a 5 gal pail with lid at each job site. They are marked with the appropriate label "used oil waste" and I reuse them when servicing the next time. If their waste hauler happens to come between my visits, they'll take the container, and I start over with new ones. I cannot haul these used socks on our trucks, as they are hazardous waste, and the fine is steep if stopped by the commercial unit of our state's DOT. I know this sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but until you've had a DOT stop, you have no idea how far they crawl up your rear. The socks are relatively inexpensive and I let the managers at the stores know that if they have a oily spill of some sort, to use the sock to absorb the mess, then call me ASAP. They can also be wrung out for extended use.
 

Mike Schoeben

New member
Yes, the filtered stuff (debris) can be put in the dumpster, but the socks cannot. They usually have their people who pickup the used cooking oil take the oil socks for a nominal fee. Rules for used oil waste are pretty strict in MN, so I don't take any chances.
 
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