As discussed in Walden’s previous blog, there are multiple regulations that all auto dealerships, auto body shops, car washes, and any other business in New York State that performs any form of washing/cleaning of vehicles on-site are regulated by. Currently, Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has been writing violations for facilities that have failed to meet car wash activity requirements and has been imposing fines on these facilities.
For all businesses in New York State, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) regulates discharge into New York State groundwater and surface water through their State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit program. Based on SPDES regulations, wastewater from washing procedures cannot drain into groundwater or surface water, as this is considered a source of contamination and could lead to violations and fines from the NYSDEC. This means that if your facility washes vehicles outside over drains, you could be violating the SPDES program and could be subjected to fines.
Some facilities have on-site wash systems that collects all wastewater from washing activities, treats, and then either re-uses the treated water or discharges it to sanitary or combined sewer, (note: discharging to storm sewer would be in violation of NYSDEC SPDES program). These “contained” wash systems are also regulated by environmental and health agencies.
All vehicle washing activities in Suffolk County are governed by NYSDEC, Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS), and Suffolk County Department of Public Works (SCDPW). As everywhere in the state, the wash water is regulated by NYSDEC SPDES program to not discharge to groundwater or surface water. As for the counties discussed in the previous blog, facilities must either install a treatment system to re-use the wash water or discharge to sewer. If the facility discharges to sewer, they must follow SCDPW procedures.
If the facility chooses to treat the wash water, they must abide by all SCDHS regulations and procedures. Before a system can be installed, the facility must complete a “Zero Discharge Permit”, submit engineer drawings of the system and obtain construction approval, obtain a Permit to Construct, and, upon completion, have a Permit to Operate on-site at all times.
SCHDS requires that all systems are “zero discharge”, where no wash water leaves the system (i.e. wash systems cannot discharge wash water to on-site drywells). This means no drainage to floor drains, drywells, storm drains, or any other area unless they are drained into a containment/treatment system, or approved sewer.
If your business performs any washing activities on-site, and you aren’t sure if you’re in compliance, please call Walden Environmental Engineering (516)624-7200.
Check our previous blog for car wash regulations in New York City, Rockland County, Westchester County, and Nassau County.