Car Wash Activity Regulations– Part 1
It is critical for business owners and managers to be aware of all the regulations around car preparation work and car washing activities. Car dealerships, auto body shops, car washes, and any other business that performs any form of washing/cleaning of vehicles on-site are regulated and must follow specific standards. This is a hot topic item on Long Island, as Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has been writing violations for facilities that have failed to meet car wash activity requirements. Other counties/agencies may be in tow to also write violations for washing activities, so all business owners should familiarize themselves with their local regulations.
For all businesses operating in New York State, the 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.
Description of regulations by county/area:
New York City
New York City wash activities are governed by NYSDEC and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP). The wash water is regulated by NYSDEC SPDES program to not discharge to groundwater or surface water. This means that the facility must either install a treatment system to re-use the wash water or discharge to sewer. If the facility chooses to discharge to sewer, they must get the required approval and permits from NYCDEP.
Rockland County wash activities are governed by NYSDEC, Rockland County Department of Environmental Health (RCDEH), and local municipalities. As in New York City, the wash water is regulated by NYSDEC SPDES program, and if the facility chooses to discharge to sewer, they must get the required approval and permits from RCDEH and the local municipality.
Westchester County wash activities are governed by NYSDEC, Westchester County Department of Health (WCDH), Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (WCDEF), and local municipalities. Similar to Rockland County, the wash water is regulated by NYSDEC SPDES program and WCDH to not discharge to groundwater or surface water, and sewer connection approval must be obtained from WCDEF and the local municipality.
Nassau County wash activities are governed by NYSDEC, Nassau County Department of Health (NCDH), and Nassau County Department of Public Works (NCDPW). Similar to the previously discussed counties, wash water is regulated by NYSDEC SPDES program and NCDH to not discharge to groundwater or surface water. Any sewer connections for wash activities must be approved and permitted by NCDPW.
For all business owners looking for additional information regarding car wash regulations and how to get into compliance, please call Walden Environmental Engineering (516) 624-7200.
Check back at our next blog for Suffolk County car wash regulations.