The proverb “out of sight, out of mind” is simple to follow when you’re cleaning with a power washer. You simply wash a surface and the wastewater goes down the drain. No problem, right? The truth is that this type of wastewater is a major concern as over 150 billion litres of wastewater enters Canada’s waterways each year, affecting the environment, human health and economy, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. While power washing is the most efficient way to wash surfaces, failure to abide by the government’s regulations can turn a seemingly innocent cleaning job into a legal battle.

Implications of Power Washing Runoff

When you wash a surface, it collects contaminants, including dirt, sediments, oil, hazardous chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria and cleaning products. After running off the pavement and into a storm drain, aqueducts carry the wastewater to a body of water, which often empties into a larger body of water. Incidentally, wastewater and sewage is responsible for more than 50 percent of pollution in the ocean, contributing to dead zones and the decline of animal species.

Canada recognized urban runoff as an environmental threat in the 1980s, leading to the creation of the Canada Water Act and federal policies that address the management of water resources. The government, however, realizes that simply creating policies is not enough. Residents must also be aware of the value of water in their lives and use it judiciously, as the country and planet cannot afford to waste this precious resource.

Among the greatest sources of surface water pollution are wastewater effluents, which contain harmful chemicals, suspended solids, pesticides, pathogens, organic waste, grit and debris. Even a seemingly small amount of wastewater is not safe because the toxins at low levels still affect the wellbeing of the environment and the life it sustains. As a result, provinces and the federal government enacted laws that prohibit discharging non-storm water (anything other than precipitation) into storm drain systems. Many municipalities specifically include power-washing runoff in their policies, promoting the use of water reclamation for power washing. Disregarding power washing regulations can result in hefty fines and legal exposure. Even if you discharge wastewater into a storm drain on your own property, you could still face a fine and citation. In 2009, for example, Calgary began fining private citizens $3,000 for washing their cars in the streets without a water reclamation system.

How to Properly Disopose of Power Washing Runoff

Power washers spray two or three gallons of water per minute. In just one hour, the equipment produces at least 120 gallons of wastewater. Fortunately, water reclamation for power washing can collect 90 percent or more of wastewater produced, keeping your company in compliance with environmental laws.

During a power-washing project, specialists prevent wastewater from entering storm drains by covering them with special mats. They then use berms, which are flexible tubes with vacuums that pump wastewater to a special storage tank. Specialists dispose of the water on-site or take it to a wastewater disposal facility. If the wastewater does not contain hazardous pollutants, a municipality might allow you to use the wastewater to water landscapes as long as the danger of runoff is not present. Similarly, it may be possible to discharge the wastewater into the sanitary sewer connection. Wastewater that contains pollutants such as paint, disinfectants, fertilizers, pesticides, hazardous chemicals, oils or lubricants, and other harmful toxins might be subject to National Pollutant Release Inventory reporting.

Water reclamation for power washing protects drinking water, improves water quality, protects animal species and reduces potential liabilities. To make the environmental legal landscape simpler to navigate, it is best to use a green power washing contractor that follows the latest policies. Scotts exceeds industry and environmental standards with its H2O GreenClean program, which integrates the use of biodegradable detergents with comprehensive wastewater disposal methods and technician training in pollution prevention. Simply your cleaning projects and avoid environmental fines by partnering with Scotts for all your power washing needs—from fleet washing to graffiti removal to parking lot cleaning. Call us today for a free quote.

From factories to multifamily properties to office buildings, Scotts provides commercial power washing services when it’s most convenient for your workers and customers. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about our discount program.