Transportation Washing

Best Management Practices For:

Gas Stations, Auto Repair Shops, Auto Body Shops, Car Dealerships, Mobile Fleet Managers, Airplane Maintenance, and Mobile Fleet Washing Services

Many common vehicle maintenance and washing routines contribute to environmental pollution. Washing a vehicle or pouring used motor oil into a gutter or storm drain pollutes the environment. Water runoff from streets, parking lots and driveways picks up oil and grease dripped from cars, asbestos worn from brake linings, zinc from tires and organic compounds and metals from spilled fuels. These chemicals drain into the Las Vegas Wash, harming aquatic life. Oil and grease, for example, clog fish gills and block oxygen from entering the water.

Cleaning/Degreasing Engines and Equipment, Auto and Truck Drive Trains and Airplanes

Clean with or without soap, no storm drain disposal permitted; requires treatment before being discharged to the sanitary sewer system; should be cleaned on a wash pad; requires discussion with facility operator.

Note: Because it is likely that pollutants (petroleum products and metals) are concentrated in these washwaters, the local wastewater treatment plant will require some sort of type of treatment before discharge into the sanitary sewer. Contact the local wastewater treatment plant for requirements and additional information. Contact the facility operator regarding wash pad and treatment equipment available on-site (i.e., oil/water separator, sampling manholes, etc.) or contact a distributors of this type of equipment. If a sanitary sewer is not available or treatment of the wastewater is not feasible, then contact a company capable of hauling (i.e., tanker truck) the wastewater off-site to dispose of at an authorized site.

Cleaning of Unpainted Metal Vehicles and Containers Using Acid Detergents

Acid runoff from cleaning unpainted vehicles or containers with acid detergents must be neutralized to a pH between 5 and 11 before pumping to sanitary sewer. Contact your local wastewater treatment plant for requirements and additional information. Never discharge to storm drain.

Truck Trailer and Boat Cleaning

(Exterior only - Food Related)

Sweep, collect and dispose of debris. Use dry cleaning methods as much as possible. Food residue must be disposed of as garbage or sent to the sanitary sewer. Avoid hosing down trailer. Wastewater cannot be discharged to the storm drain; it should be pumped to the sanitary sewer. Contact your local wastewater treatment plant for more information.

Truck Trailer Cleaning

If toxic materials have been shipped in the trailer and there has been a spill: do not hose down the spill. Take immediate action to prevent the spread of the material and protect nearby storm drains. Contact your local fire department for guidance.

Fleet Vehicle Washing

(Exterior Only Removing Mainly Soil - With Soap)

Use wash pads that capture the wastewater and discharge it to the sanitary sewer. Solids separation is required before disposal. Ideally, a separate wash area that captures the wastewater should be established. Use of temporary wash pads that can be drained to the sanitary sewer is also acceptable

Seal storm drains. Wastewater runoff and excess soapy water must be collected and pumped or otherwise discharged as follows:

  • Sanitary sewer (Pump into sanitary system clean out/sink or into an on-site private sanitary sewer manhole; verify with the facility manager that it is not a storm drain manhole). Solids separation will be required before disposal to prevent clogging the system.
  • Landscape or soil area (Note: Be aware that soapy wastewater may adversely affect landscaping). Discharge should be directed to an area sufficient to contain all the water. Discuss the practices with property owner. Acceptable for minimum discharge flows only. Repetitive use of the same area or excessive wash volume to the same area may be illegal.
  • If disposal to the sanitary sewer and/or to a landscaped area is not possible, then contract with a company capable of hauling the wastewater off-site to an authorized disposal site.

Note: No storm drain disposal of wash water is permitted; water must be discharged to the sanitary sewer/soil. There may be some unavoidable evaporation from paved surfaces. Wastewater cannot be discharged to the storm drain for disposal.

If a significant amount of wastewater runoff evaporates at the site before it can be collected, and the site is routinely used for this purpose, the paved area itself must be cleaned every six months, or at the end of the wash service contract (whichever comes first). Any wastewater used during this procedure must be collected and discharged to a sanitary sewer.

Mobile Auto Detailing

(Infrequent, Light Cleaning, Rarely at Same Location; Removing Mainly Soil, With Minimum Water Volume) - With Soap

Minimal runoff may remain on paved surfaces to evaporate. If there is insufficient water volume to reach the storm drain, seal the storm drain and pump the water to the sanitary sewer. For landscaped or soil areas, discharge should be directed to an area sufficient to contain the water. Discuss this practice with the property owner. Acceptable for minimal discharge flows. Repetitive use of the same area or excessive wash volume to the same area may be illegal.

Boat Cleaning

(Where Paint Chips Are Being Removed in Preparation for Painting)

Filtered wastewater must be discharged to the sanitary sewer. Contact your local wastewater treatment plant for more information. Dispose of paint particles appropriately according to paint type (e.g., if paint is lead-based, copper-based, or contains Tributyltin or PCBs, consult your local wastewater treatment plant and hazardous waste regulators such as the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) or the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) for information on disposal of hazardous waste). If non-hazardous, material may be disposed of as solid waste after filtered paint particles have dried. This BMP is not intended to address the disposal of paint waste.

Shop Area Cleaning

(Interior Cleaning of Vehicle Shop Areas and Paint Booths)

Do not hose down your shop floor into streets or parking lots. It is best to dry sweep regularly. Use nontoxic cleaning products. Baking soda paste works well on battery heads, cable clamps and chrome; mix the soda with a mild, biodegradable dishwashing soap to clean wheels and tires; for windows, mix white vinegar or lemon juice with water. To reduce or eliminate the generation of waste, fix sources of drips or leaks where possible. Routinely inspect the engine compartment, and regularly replace worn seals on equipment.

To avoid or control spills and leaks do the following:

  • Prepare and use easy to find spill containment and cleanup kits. Include safety equipment and cleanup materials appropriate to the type and quantity of materials that could spill.
  • Pour kitty litter, sawdust or other commercially available oil absorber on spills. For disposal instructions, call the Nevada Small Business Development Center, Business Environmental Program at 1-800-882-3233.
  • Change fluids carefully. Use a drip pan to avoid spills. Prevent fluid leaks from stored vehicles. Drain fluids such as unused gas, transmission and hydraulic oil, brake and radiator fluid from vehicles or parts kept in storage. Implement simple work practices to reduce the chance of spills.
  • Use a funnel when pouring liquids (like lubricants or motor oil) and place a tray underneath to catch spills. Place drip pans under the spouts of liquid storage containers. Clean up spills immediately.
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