Municipal

Wash Racks for Municipal Wash Water Management

How to Handle
Polluted Water

Regardless of city or state, best practices call for dirty wash water to be collected (captured), filtered for large particles and oils, and treated for chemicals such as phosphate. Ideally, it is then recycled for minimal water consumption. This is best accomplished by using a wash rack and filtration system.

To protect our natural resources, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put into place the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which aims to minimize the pollution caused by stormwater runoff. The NPDES program regulates three potential sources of stormwater runoff: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Each one of these sources needs to have an NPDES permit issued by the EPA in place before it is allowed to discharge stormwater. Often, this is combined with the requirement to have a stormwater management program is place that describes how the discharge of pollutants will be minimized.

Traditional stormwater management approaches have usually focused on the amount of water that needs to be disposed of, especially during peak flow times, for example after heavy rains. However, a growing body of research has shown that deteriorating water quality and diminishing biological diversity in water bodies can threaten water resources and pose a significant threat to public health. And so in recent years, the focus of stormwater management has shifted to the question of how to reduce pollution.

For municipalities, these requirements can be a challenge. Growing communities that are looking to expand local business opportunities and infrastructure have to balance their development plans with complex EPA regulations. Urban areas have to manage an increased pollution threat posed by runoff from the large numbers of roads and parking lots that are part of their communities. And on top of this, state agencies and local governments can impose regulations in addition to Federal EPA mandates. Thus, managing stormwater can mean a significant technical and financial challenge for municipalities across the country.

When dealing with the problem of how to dispose of polluted water, municipalities have to keep in mind three items:

1. Cost
2. Efficiency
3. Environmental protection and preservation

1. Cost

When evaluating the cost of handling wash water, there are several aspects a municipality has to consider:

  • How much polluted water is produced?
  • Is the same amount of polluted water produced on a regular basis or does the amount vary? Depending on the location, a municipality might produce more wash water in one season compared to another.
  • Is the amount of polluted water likely to change in the future? As communities are looking to expand economic opportunities and industrial development, public works departments have to change accordingly.

2. Efficiency

Communities across the nation are increasingly recognizing that a healthy environment is essential for its residents’ quality of life. Water is now seen a valuable resource as municipalities grapple with changing weather patterns that can bring both extreme flooding and extreme drought. The following questions need to be asked:

  • Does the municipality have easy access to water?
  • Is the access to water guaranteed or can it fluctuate?
  • How robust are the flora and fauna of the area? Some ecosystems are better equipped to handle pollutants than others.

3. Environmental protection and preservation

Communities across the nation are increasingly recognizing that a healthy environment is essential for its residents’ quality of life. Water is now seen a valuable resource as municipalities grapple with changing weather patterns that can bring both extreme flooding and extreme drought. The following questions need to be asked:

  • Does the municipality have easy access to water?
  • Is the access to water guaranteed or can it fluctuate?
  • How robust are the flora and fauna of the area? Some ecosystems are better equipped to handle pollutants than others.

One important aspect of water management is the containment of wash water produced by day-to-day operations of municipalities’ public works departments. Equipment and vehicles of varying sizes have to be properly maintained to run efficiently. Earth-moving equipment, salt trucks, dump trucks, buses, and vans all need washing at varying frequencies. The water used during washing becomes contaminated with solvents, chemicals, oils, and metals. This polluted water must not be discharged to the ground and is often required by law to be thoroughly filtered before discharged as stormwater or channeled to the sanitary system.

(Federal, state and local regulations increasingly prohibit the casual disposal of wash water runoff. Because most wash water, like stormwater, is untreated and often unpredictable, sewer systems are not usually designed to process it. Under federal mandate, municipalities across the country have begun to implement systems that separate stormwater systems and sewer systems, known as MS4. Stormwater runoff can be handled in an environmentally responsible way, and sewer systems can operate as intended.

However, this still leaves municipalities with the problem of how to process water that becomes polluted during daily operations. Wash water cannot be discharged onto the ground or into the storm sewer. Wash water must be treated and reused or treated and sent to sanitary sewer, if regulations allow, which is becoming increasingly unlikely.

The Advantage of Using a Wash Rack

A wash rack is a contained space that allows users maximum control over water usage and capture. Vehicles and equipment enter the wash rack, are cleaned as needed, and then exit. The used water remains behind and is collected, then pumped through the filtration system. There, the water is treated as needed. The exact treatment depends on the ultimate destination of the water. If it is recycled, requirements are different than if the water is to enter the sanitation system. Public works departments must follow federal, state, and local regulations to determine which treatment is acceptable.

Riveer offers flexible solutions that can be customized depending on the specific needs and requirements of a public works department. Each Riveer Rack is:

  • Cost-effective. Because each Riveer Rack can be customized, a municipality saves on time and money. There will be no unnecessary features that drive up the cost.
  • Efficient. Each Riveer Rack features a bolt-together installation that requires no engineering permit. Whether the wash rack is used short-term or long-term, because of its semi-permanent nature, there is no need for construction or site permits either.
  • Labor saving. Riveer wash racks can be fitted with conveyors to automatically transfer solids to hoppers for easy disposal.
  • Automated. Riveer wash racks can be ordered with undercarriage rinse arrays to automatically wash undersides of salt trucks, street sweepers, mowers, vans…
  • Flexible. Riveer wash racks can be quickly assembled and taken apart.
  • Environmentally friendly. Self-contained wash racks capture pollutants before they ever reach the environment. Riveer Racks contain and recover dirty solids and chemical pollutants during the cleaning process, so they never leave the rack. This is an EPA-approved way of preventing pollutants from contaminating stormwater systems.
  • Compatible with existing sewer systems. Waste solids that are captured by a wash rack can be easily disposed of following EPA’s guidelines, while wash water can either be reused or treated, in which case it can then safely enter a municipality’s existing MS4.

Which Riveer Rack Is Best

Riveer offers a variety of options that can accommodate each municipality’s unique needs and requirements. When considering which option will be best, there are several points to keep in mind.

Permanent concrete pad versus moveable above-ground steel rack

For new construction and major infrastructure renovations, Riveer can provide concrete wash pad designs that incorporate built in conveyors, skid steer side troughs, undercarriage spray arrays, or elevated ramps.

Above-ground steel racks can be customized to fit any existing wash bay in need of updating. Because Riveer racks are all custom built, they can include conveyors, rinse arrays, elevated ramps, over spray walls, and canopies. Riveer Racks can be built to any specification and sized to accommodate the exact requirements of a public works department. Riveer racks come standard powder coated, but can also be galvanized. The bolt-together system is semi-permanent and requires no permits for assembly. The wash rack used water and moves it through a filtration system that removes solids and contaminants. The water can then be reused or treated further to prepare it for disposal.

Water recycling versus disposal

With Riveer wash racks, a municipality has the option to reuse wash water for zero discharge. This option has two advantages:

1. No permit requirements. If you are not planning to discharge into sanitary or stormwater systems, your water treatment options are likely to be less stringent.
2. Minimal water usage. Complete reuse is particularly attractive in areas that frequently experience drought conditions. However, even in municipalities where the access to water is unrestricted, water conservation is a

Permanent structure versus a flexible setup

A permanent structure is an advantage for municipalities that are unlikely to experience change. However, for a public works department that is expected to adjust to changing needs, the flexibility of a Riveer Rack is particularly attractive. The wash rack can be built to any required size, and it can be adjusted after the initial setup. Additionally, Riveer Racks can be customized with:

  • An automatic conveyer with a wedge wire screed that can filter out mud.
  • An automated undercarriage wash.
  • Side spray bars.
  • Inspection ramps.
  • Lighting.
  • Different decks, depending on needs

For additional information on municipal applications, contact Riveer today.

 

The Riveer line of Pretreatment Systems spans the requirements of today’s compliant manufacturing operations.

Quick Request