Getting the most from your portable truck wash bay
Portable truck wash bays are perfect for temporary sites or installations where site modifications aren't possible. They can be supplied off the shelf or as customised units resulting in flexible solutions that meet local authority requirements. But, how do you know if you are getting the most out of your portable truck wash? What can you do to minimise costs, reduce the risk of breaching standards and keep your system running smoothly and efficiently?
Cleanawater offers expert technical services and advice for portable truck wash bays.
1. Make sure your system is designed correctly
Factors influencing the design of a portable truck wash bay are the capacity of the system and its weight. Pits should be sized according to the expected solids content and oil water separators should be sized according to peak conditions of oil content and flow. No matter how much commitment is given to operating a wash bay correctly, it will not deliver according to expectation if it is not correctly designed.
In addition, the flooring surface must be able to handle the load of the portable wash bay system.
2. Keep your system compliant with regulations
One of the primary considerations when installing a portable truck wash bay is to specify the system with the local water authority requirements in mind. This includes implementing water treatment solutions based on permit limits e.g. pH, oil content and dissolved solids. Authorities may also require perimeter bunding and diversion systems to prevent stormwater contamination.
It is an expensive project to rectify non-compliant systems after installation, so the effort put into design up front always ensures that you get the most out of your portable truck wash bay down the line.
3. Connect your waste water discharge to the right system
A primary cause of non-compliance for portable wash bays is connecting the waste water discharge to stormwater and not the waste water sewer system. Stormwater discharges directly into the environment in the form of rivers or the ocean without any waste water treatment. Any contaminants that enter the stormwater system therefore have the potential to cause an immediate environmental incident, fines and negative publicity.
4. Regularly clean your pit from sludge
Silt traps or pits allow solids to settle out of the waste water stream before it enters an oil water separator. However, if the pit fills up, solids will be carried over. They could damage the oil water separator and make it less efficient by creating blockages in the system. When this happens, there is the potential for a high dissolved solids content of waste water as well as oil carry over.
5. Use RPZ valves for water supply
RPZ (Reduced Pressure Zone) valves prevent back flow contamination of water supply. This is important as nozzles left on the ground during washing could syphon contaminants back into the water supply system if not fitted with RPZ valves. Contaminated water would then appear anywhere on site depending on the configuration of piping and user points.
6. Check for water overspray
Overspray from a portable wash bay is troublesome because it results in a waste of water. However, splash back overspray is potentially even more problematic. Contaminants like oil and solids may be carried with splash back overspray outside of the bunded area. Once again, this could cause an environmental incident.
7. Make sure you plan for rain water
Unroofed wash bays capture large volumes of water during rain events. In order to avoid overloading oil water separators and other treatment processes, clean water should be bypassed around the system and into the stormwater drains. This can be achieved with first flush systems. The initial downpour of rain enters the oil water separator taking any contaminants with it, while the remaining rain water is directed straight into stormwater.
8. Prevent pooling by correcting gradients
Wash bays are designed to prevent pooling by sloping towards silt traps or collection points for oil water separators. When the gradient is not correct, water pools on the wash bay floor and oil floats on the surface. Trucks driving over the surface may pick up oil and transfer it over the bund thus causing contamination. Oily water must always be contained in the bunded area and processed through oil water separators.
9. Check for bund leaks
Bund leaks are another source of non-compliance because they allow contaminated water to enter the stormwater system without treatment. It is important for the integrity of the containment system to be preserved to avoid environmental incidents.
10. Perform routine maintenance checks
Routine maintenance is often underestimated but subtle issues can become major incidents if left unchecked. Some routine maintenance tasks include:
Inspect bunds for leaks
Inspect silt traps regularly and clean when required
Check oil water separator including the function of level switches, cleaning sludge and physical appearance of water and oil
Cleanawater has been involved in waste water treatment in the Australian context for over 20 years. Our portable truck wash bays come in standard models or customised solutions. We also offer maintenance contracts to ensure ongoing compliance and efficient operation.
Cleanawater on 19 November 2014
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