Proper treatment of wash water generated in the process of washing waste hauling trucks can save operating costs while maintaining a green profile.
By Andrew Hyatt

Have you ever tried to recycle wash water generated during the process of cleaning waste hauling trucks? I have been on the receiving end of calls from disgruntled customers who have tried to recycle water in this application and all the complaints were the same: “The water stinks so bad; our people will not use recycled water.” Let’s face it, a traditional recycling system placed in this application does not work. Typical recycling systems have come in all forms from setting, separation through multiple filtration mediums, biological treatment and also oxidation. It does not matter what technology is applied, the biological content of the wash water is so high, no reasonably priced process will get the water clean enough to recycle. I have been in the industrial wastewater business for 29 years and have experienced many different technologies. When it comes to recycling wash water, there needs to be specific solutions applied—especially when it comes to cleaning hauling vehicles. After many years of multiple companies offering different solutions to recycle wash water in the waste industry and failing, waste haulers have reverted to the old standby of having the water stored on site and then hauled away by an environmental company to be treated offsite—and paying top dollar to do so.

ClearFlow 200 installed at a waste hauler facility.

Liability and Transportation Issues
While hauling this water away is an easy way of not having to deal with the burdens of it, paying exorbitant prices is not the best management practice since there are many issues associated with hauling water from your facility. The main one is called “Cradle to Grave Liability”, which means that you are always responsible for the wastewater hauled from your facility. There is a paper trail that leads back to the generator of the wastewater and if it ends up where it is not supposed to be, the generator will be on the hook to pay for the cleanup. Sure, the waste hauling company has insurance, and they provide a certificate of indemnity, but, when there is a spill, or the wastewater is not treated offsite properly, the ultimate responsibility lies on the generator. Other issues with hauling water are the onsite storage and containment concerns with storing large volumes of wastewater. Paperwork is a burden to deal with and, as was mentioned previously, the cost per gallon can get pretty high based on the contamination level of the wastewater.

The best way to handle this wash water is to provide a treatment that will allow for it to be discharged to a sanitary sewer. The technology must be as affordable and cost-effective as compared to hauling. Each location also has their variables. For example, some deal with a higher volume of washing than others. Not all wash water generated is the same for each location and may serve a different type of clientele, which generates a different concentration of contaminants in the wash water.


ClearFlow 400 installed at a waste hauler facility.

Ideal Treatment Systems
An effective wastewater treatment system must be able to adapt to these variables while being as hands off as possible. The main goal of a maintenance facility is to keep the trucks operational. The facility’s staff time is well spent on truck maintenance, not the ancillary systems that keep the facility operational. Wastewater treatment systems that are fully automated and can monitor performance ensure that proper operations are ideal. A system should alert the facility staff when it needs attention. It must be rugged and designed to last in the hauling environment. Waste hauling wash water is harsh. Typically, low in pH, high acidic fluids and potentially large solids can find their way to the system. Look for systems that are constructed with stainless steel and powder-coated with a final ceramic clear coat. All of the components that make up the system should be the highest quality and readily available. This type of system provides the best available technology to work in the environment at a waste hauling facility.

The most important attribute of this type of system is that it will provide the proper treatment of the generated waste to be able to discharge to the sewer, resulting in a lower cost compared to hauling. As with any application in industrial wastewater, management of the process generating the wastewater must be understood and monitored. Changes in practices or the process can affect the system that is pre-treating for discharge. Often, a simple change in the soap that is being used to clean the vehicles can change the resulting wastewater and the system’s ability to meet discharge limits. Constant and open communication with the operators, management and mostly a greater knowledge of the system through training can provide the firewall needed to avoid upsets.

A Clean Nature
Unlike any other company that provides a service, waste haulers provide a service that comes with tough consequences in many forms. It is understandable that the company image on the street must reflect a clean nature and one that is beholden to the environment. This is one of the reasons the trucks are routinely cleaned. Wastewater treatment systems have been proven to provide proper treatment of the generated wastewater from cleaning the trucks to ensure that waste haulers can “Save Money Being Green While You Clean”. | WA

Andrew C Hyatt is President of Environmental Compliance Equipment (ECE) (Stuart, FL), a company that specializes in the treatment of industrial wastewater. They have used this approach to waste hauling truck wash water and have succeeded in multiple locations since their first installation in 2015. Most of their installations in the waste hauling maintenance facilities are monitored quarterly for the quality of the water being sent to sewer. ECE has met requirements consistently in operations while maintaining a cost to do so much lower than the cost per gallon to haul. A ROI of one year or less is not unheard of in some applications. For more information, contact Marvin Miller at [email protected].