Everything you need to know about permanent wash bays

Cleanawater on 3 June 2016

Businesses that wash vehicles on their premises require wash bays in order to ensure compliance with relevant Australian state and territory water authorities.

Even if washing is undertaken occasionally or infrequently, an appropriately-sized and compliant wash bay is still needed to meet local water authority requirements.

To learn more about the difference between permanent and temporary wash bays, watch the video below.

What is a permanent wash bay?

permanent wash bay inside forkliftA permanent wash bay is a fixed area within a commercial or industrial operation, which is set aside for the express purpose of washing vehicles, machinery and heavy equipment.

Unlike temporary wash bays, permanent wash bays, are not dismantled or moved on a regular basis. They are permanent structures, which provide long-lasting and on-going service.

Wash bays in Australia are required to adhere to water authority requirements surrounding the processing of wastewater. Not adhering to these standards can result in costly fines or even closures of businesses.

Temporary vs. permanent wash bays

Temporary wash bays are ideal for use on projects which require non-permanent structures, such as building sites. They can usually be erected and disassembled fast and with a minimum of disruption to a business' operation. They are also usually cheaper to install than a comparable permanent wash bay.

Permanent wash bays, on the other hand, are suitable for use where businesses have a fixed location. Therefore, they are a better choice for when businesses require a long term or on-going solution. Installed professionally and maintained properly, a permanent wash bay can provide many years of service.

 Temporary wash baysPermanent wash bays

Faster to install


Cheaper to install


Long lasting performance


Best for permanent locations


Wash bays and water authority compliance

While compliance requirements do differ between Australian states and territories, broadly speaking your permanent wash bay will require the following components in order to achieve compliance.

Required for water authority compliance:

  • Pre-treatment device
  • Oil seperator
  • Silt trap
  • Perimeter bunding
  • Holding pit

Wash bays are not required to have a roof, however, should a wash bay lack a roof then a first flush diversion system will likely be needed to achieve compliance with local water authorities.

"Wash bays in Australia are required to adhere to water authority requirements"

Roofed vs. unroofed wash bays

Both roofed and unroofed wash bays offer benefits to business owners. Which is right for you and your business will, however, depend on a variety of factors.

Roofed wash bays

The main benefit of roofed wash bays is that they provide the capacity for 'all-weather' cleaning. With a roofed wash bay, your staff can comfortably clean vehicles in almost all conditions, including under heavy rain or under the scorching hot sun.

Additionally, because stormwater can run off of your roof, in many cases, extra equipment will not be required to manage stormwater, which has combined with wastewater. Because of this, roofed wash bays will likely not require a first flush diversion system.

Unroofed wash bays

Because a roofed structure is not required, unroofed wash bays can usually be erected faster and more cost effectively than their roofed counterparts. Permits associated with roofed structures, for example, do not need to be acquired and this can save you both time and money.

Another benefit of unroofed wash bays is that they often negate height restrictions. This makes them ideal for businesses which clean over-sized and large vehicles, including cranes and heavy equipment.

 Roofed wash baysUnroofed wash bays

Faster and cheaper to install


All-weather cleaning


First flush diversion system (often) not required


Ideal for cleaning over-sized vehicles


How much does it cost to install a wash down bay?

Exact pricing will depend on your business and your wash bay needs. However, Cleanawater can provide a turnkey supply and installation of a wash down bay for as little as $57 per week.

Oil separator packages to treat wash down water to achieve authority compliance are available from as little as $19 per week. Again, exact pricing will depend on your individual requirements

If you would like more information regarding permanent wash bays or wastewater management systems, contact the team at Cleanawater on: 1800 353 788