The Benefits of Recycling and Reusing Your Wash Water

re·use (verb) : to use again especially after reclaiming or reprocessing
re·cy·cle (verb) :to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: to process in order to regain material for use

While recycling is a term generally applied to aluminum cans, glass bottles, and newspapers, water can be recycled as well. Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a ground water basin (referred to as ground water recharge). Water is sometimes recycled and reused onsite; for example, when an industrial facility recycles water used for cooling processes or when a pressure washer is combined with Hydro Tek’s Hydro Vacuum ® system. The term water recycling is generally used synonymously with water reclamation and water reuse.

Operating a pressure washer uses a lot of water. Capturing, recycling and reusing that water is good for the environment because it reduces the amount of pollutants and allows for those pollutants to be properly disposed of. It also reduces costs of operation by saving water and reduces the risk of litigation by increasing compliance with federal, state and local clean water regulations.

Power Washer Cleaning
EPA regulation compliance must be considered by pressure washer and power washer users when engaging in equipment cleaning, vehicle washing and facility grounds maintenance. The use of mobile pressure cleaning is necessary to extend equipment life, reduce downtime and maintain value. Pressure washing is also aesthetically beneficial to retail establishments in having clean parking lots and building.

However, any process of cleaning with a power washer or pressure washer produces a stream of waste, which must now be contained and accounted for.
Cleaning equipment on site should be done only over a protected area where the runoff can be collected or diverted to a collection point and properly treated or disposed of.
Water recycling systems are available and they are the best method of allowing the cleaning water to be recovered and used over and over. This will help eliminate illegal discharged to storm drains and the ground, protecting you from litigation and helping the environment. These systems will allow the re-use of wash water eliminating continuous sewer discharge.
The new EPA regulations regulating storm water runoff present both problems and opportunities for equipment distributors and their customers. Responding to the customer needs to comply and being informative and having a comprehensive plan is the best method of practice.

Additionally, there is a drought in many parts of the country. Many of the drought stricken areas across the United States are running low on water supplies and municipalities are imposing restrictions on water usage. You can respond to this the same way as you would to discharge problems. If you are washing and recovering water for re-use, the need for fresh water is reduced or eliminated allowing the pressure washer user to comply with water use restrictions.

The savings here is simple to calculate, if you wash with a mobile wash skid at 5 gpm for one hour you would consume 300 gallons of water. If it took 6 hours to complete the job the mobile wash contractor will need 1800 gallons of water.

If that same mobile wash skid was running with a wastewater recovery process system and a 300 gallon storage tank the wash contractor would use 300 gallons in one hour and recover 85% of the wash water and return it to the storage tank the wash contractor will have 255 gallons of reusable water. After the second hour of use, the wash contractor will have 210 gallons of useable water remaining. As the wash contractor continues washing for 6 hours the wash contractor will have 75 gallons remaining when finished. The wash contractor just saved 1575 gallons of water and was left with very little residual recycled water to dispose of and was environmentally safe.

This same application can be utilized for stationary wash recovery systems when water restrictions are implemented. Many facilities operate their pressure steamers or stationary natural gas and propane units on domestic water continuously. If they stopped discharging to sewer, recovered and recycled the wash water they would reduce their water consumption dramatically. In drought conditions there is some cost savings in the reduction of water consumption but the real benefit is to be able to continue to wash and generate revenue while complying with water use restrictions.
Above all, remember this; The cost of compliance, if approached sensibly and with reason, is minimal compared to the consequences and liabilities (fines) of not complying.

Best Management Practices or BMPs shall mean schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices to prevent or reduce Pollutants in discharges. BMPs include, but are not limited to, public education and outreach, proper planning of development projects, proper clean-out of catch basins, and proper waste handling and disposal.

What does this mean?
This means as a Pressure Washer user you should know what your local discharge parameters are. You should be aware of all regulations regarding containment, handling and treatment in relation to all wash practices. Hydro Tek can help you meet the requirements.

Remember the best protection for your business is education regarding the products you use and the rules/regulations of your municipality.

Used with permission from Hydro Tek Cleaning Systems and some of the information on this page is courtesy of the EPA and their website.