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Heavy equipment dealers, rental companies and service centers with underground waste disposal systems—floor drains or sinks in service bays that connect to a septic system or dry well (i.e., catch basins)—are regulated by the EPA.

During normal vehicle repair and maintenance, fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, solvents and degreasers may drip or spill into floor drains or sinks in service areas. Disposal of these fluids through underground waste disposal systems may contaminate ground water, so the EPA regulates these to prevent ground water contamination in certain areas.

According to the EPA, such underground waste disposal systems are banned nationwide if constructed after April 5, 2000, in ground water protection areas near public water systems that provide ground water used for drinking.

However, some states may waive the ban and issue a permit if certain procedures are followed.

The EPA states that “at a minimum, permits require … [that] waste fluids must meet drinking water standards called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) at the point of injection. This means that shop wastewater, before it is discharged into the ground, must not exceed any MCL.”

For any heavy equipment dealer or rental shop that services motor vehicles, this means installing a wastewater treatment system that effectively separate the contaminants from the water so it can be legally discharged into underground waste disposal systems.

However, traditional wastewater treatment systems can be complex, often requiring multiple steps, a variety of chemicals and considerable labor. Even when the process is supposedly automated, often technicians must still monitor the equipment in person. This usually requires overseeing mixing, separation, adding chemicals and more. Even then, the water produced can still fall below mandated requirements.

Although paying to have heavy equipment motor vehicle wastewater hauled away is an option, it is extraordinarily expensive. In contrast, it is much more cost effective to treat the wastewater at its source, so treated effluent can go into underground waste disposal systems. As an alternative, if necessary, with sufficient treatment and accommodation, it could also potentially go into a sewer; and if treated sludge passes a Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure test it could be disposed of as non-hazardous waste in a local landfill.

Fortunately, as heavy equipment rental companies and service centers are proving, complying with EPA and local wastewater regulation has become much easier with more fully automated, wastewater treatment systems. Such systems not only reliably meet regulatory wastewater requirements, but also significantly reduce the cost of treatment, labor and disposal.

Cost-Effective, Automated Wastewater Treatment

In contrast to labor-intensive multiple step processes, automated wastewater treatment can help to streamline production, usually with a one-step process, while lowering costs at heavy equipment motor vehicle dealer, rental, and service facilities.

An automated wastewater treatment system can eliminate the need to monitor equipment in person while complying with EPA and locally mandated requirements. Such automated systems separate suspended solids, emulsified oil and heavy metals, and encapsulate the contaminants, producing an easily de-waterable sludge in minutes.

The water is typically then separated using a de-watering table or bag filters before it is discharged into underground waste disposal systems, or potentially sewer systems. Other options for de-watering include using a filter press or rotary drum vacuum. The resulting solids are non-leachable and are considered non-hazardous, so will pass all required testing.

These systems are available as manual batch processors, semi-automatic, automatic and can be designed to provide a legally dischargeable effluent suitable for the sewer system. A new, fully customized system is not always required. Often, it can be faster and more economical to add to or modify a facility’s wastewater treatment systems.

However, because every wastewater stream is unique to its industry and application, each wastewater treatment solution must be suited to or tailored to the application.

The first step in evaluating the potential cost savings and effectiveness of a new system is to sample the wastewater to determine its chemical make-up followed by a full review of EPA and local water authority requirements.

The volume of wastewater that will be treated is also analyzed, to determine if a batch unit or flow-through system is required. Other considerations include the size restrictions so the system fits within the facility’s available footprint.

Today’s automated systems can provide heavy equipment dealer, rental, and service shops with an easy, cost-effective alternative so they remain compliant with the EPA and local ordinances. Although there is a cost to these systems, they do not require much attention and can easily be more economical than paying fines or hauling.

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