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Cleaning and Restoration Waste Water Dumping
In many Cities throughout the United States there are laws regulating waste water dumping. Cleaning and restoration companies can be affected by this. During the past 20 – 30 years of “truckmount” cleaning and water extraction, the typical procedure was to open the dump valve and empty the water onto the driveway and onto the street, ending in the storm drain.
The storm drain is the opening on the street that clears away water during a "storm". This water, usually, goes to our lakes and streams. This is NOT the sewer system. The sewer system is the pipes connected to the building that carry waste water to a local waste water treatment facility or sewage treatment plant.
When “automatic pump outs” came along, technicians could now place a hose in the flower bed. In some cases, this can work. The water percolates through the layers of earth and rock. This filters, the water, as it passes through these layers, on its way to the lake or stream.
An issue here can be dry solvents and other potentially harmful chemicals in the water. While these ingredients can be safe, when properly used for cleaning, they are not meant for drinking. The earth does filter large particles, but chemical ingredients can be a problem.
In some cities, response to dumping on driveways and city streets, by cleaning and restoration companies, has been met by the city or local municipality imposing fines and even criminal charges.
In Houston, waste water dumping can be a substantial fine plus criminal charges. Cleaning and restoration companies are expected to dump their waste water into the sewer cleanout; the pvc pipe with a cap on. Often this “cap” is buried in the flower bed, if there is a cap. Older houses may not have one and the toilet will become the dump site.
Also, each village can have their own rules about dumping, as well as the overall City rules.
Another major issue can be a cleaning and restoration company doing a sewer backup cleanup. Let’s say the whole cul-de-sac is backed from a major sewer issue, what do you do with the extracted sewage? According to the IICRC S500, it must be hauled to a licensed waste water treatment facility.
You could call a septic tank cleaning company or use a disposal site at an RV park. Just be sure, whatever you do is legal and safe.
One of our trucks was leaking water from not being completely emptied after a job. Village officials came to our office, to inform us, if it was still leaking tomorrow, we would be fined.
Make sure you know the laws in your area. It can be very expensive getting caught dumping into the storm drain. PLUS, depending on what you are using to clean, it may not be good for our lakes and streams!
Make some phone calls. Don't guess. Know your local laws!
Dennis Klager IICRC Instructor