Recycle water and save money for your wash bay

Cleanawater on 10 May 2018

Wash bays are required for washing down parts, vehicles, containers and other items. This prevents pollutants and disease-causing bacteria from being discharged into the storm water system and into the environment.

wash bay roofed trucks

Wash bays come in a variety of forms, from a simple temporary structure to a fully roofed permanent fixture. Simple forms of treatment include silt traps, while oil separators are more complex treatment processes to clean used wash bay water. However, all of them have the same basic functions and objectives:

  • Containing the wastewater from wash down activities
  • Treating wastewater to meet trade wast specifications before discharge

Wash bays can be utilised in many industries, from car cleaning, to mining. To learn more about how wash bays work, watch the video below.

Wash bay regulations

The most highly regulated wash bays are those used for quarantine of imported goods. To protect the delicate natural ecosystems of Australia, authorities set specific criteria for quarantine wash bays in terms of:

  • Minimum size
  • Water treatment processes
  • Disinfection

Due to the complexity of the regulations and the high costs to retrofit or install a new water treatment system, it is advisable to partner with an experienced supplier for quarantine wash bays.

Recycling wash bay water

Recycling wash bay water is important for preserving sustainability, and making the wash down process economical. Wash bays reduce costs by reducing the amount of wastewater generated for disposal, and also reducing the amount of supply water needed.

For example, Western Australia's Department of Health has developed a guidance document for recycling wash bay water. Although it does not apply to other states in terms of regulations, it provides some helpful tips for recycling wash bay water.

Planning for reusing wash down water

Before implementing a wash down water recycling system, it is important to thoroughly plan the project. Here are some steps to follow when planning to use a wash bay:

  1. Determine the capacity needed and composition of the effluent water.

  2. Design the system including collection, storage, and treatment options, as well as liquid waste disposal. This should include what to do in the case of system failure to dispose of wash down water. The design should prevent storm water runoff from entering the system to prevent overload.

  3. Consult with local authorities and ensure that all regulatory permits and licenses are obtained.

  4. Develop a communication plan for internal and external communication.

Commissioning a wash down wastewater recycling system

Commissioning and testing a wastewater recycling system will ensure that it is operating as per design, and meets all license conditions:

  • The system must be installed, inspected, and maintained in accordance with local government and manufacturer’s requirements
  • The critical part of commissioning a waste water recycling system is to analyse the water quality to check that it remains within the required limits.
  • Even with water recycling, soil and sludge must still be disposed of at a registered facility.

Risk Management practices

Risk management practices ensure that adequate precautions are taken and employees are always kept safe. They include:

  • The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • The implementation of on-site procedures and training
  • A program of regular updates to the site risk assessment

Water quality

The West Australian guidance note gives specific water quality limits for the use of recycled wash down water. The following criteria must be monitored on a b-annual basis, with records kept for five years:

  • E. coli levels
  • PH levels
  • Turbidity
  • Disinfection
  • Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene, Xylene (BTEX) levels

quarantine unroofed wash bay 3

Special requirements for quarantine wash down water recycling

Quarantine wash bays are heavily regulated across all states in Australia. Recycling water must be tightly controlled to ensure that no foreign contaminants reach the Australian environment.

  • Access to a quarantine wash bay must be controlled.
  • Was bays should be sized to facilitate washing of a shipping container.
  • To prevent ground water contamination through seepage, the surface of a wash bay in quarantine service must be impervious to liquids.
  • Operating instructions should ensure that the wash bay is washed down at the end of each day.
  • All waste must be contained on site, screened and treated before discharge.

For more information about quarantine wash bays, see the relevant state government guidelines.

Contact Cleanawater

Cleanawater offers highly technical expertise, excellent quality equipment, and a personalised approach to your business’ needs. Our wash bays are Australian-made with designs appropriate to the harsh Australian climate.

We also offer services and maintenance support Australia-wide. We can easily combine our solutions to suit your specific business, compliance, and investment requirements.

Find out more about wash bays or call our expert team on 1800 353 788 today to arrange a consultation.