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The vehicle washing sector provides a service to local residents and businesses and any commercial, industrial or institutional operation involved in the washing of the exterior of vehicles. Vehicle wash operations include but are not limited to:

  • Commercial car and truck wash operations.
  • Fleet operations with wash activities.
  • Vehicle dealership operations with wash activities.
  • Vehicle maintenance shops with wash activities.

As part of the normal operation of a vehicle washing facility, liquid and solid wastes are generated. How we manage the waste can have significant impact on our natural resources, public and private infrastructure, and human and environmental health associated with stormwater, wastewater and septic systems. The following resources are specific to the vehicle washing sector.

Why wastes from vehicle washing operations are a concern

Vehicle wash wastes that go down the drain into the sanitary sewer, storm drain or septic system, can cause structural damage to both your private property & public infrastructure and impact the wastewater treatment process including septic systems.

Wastes which can cause problems include:

  • High levels of acidity or alkalinity.
  • Heavy metals.
  • Oil, grease and other petroleum products.

Other chemicals can be a health hazard; they can also create hazards such as fire, explosion, air & water pollution, corrosion of pipes or damage to sewage treatment facilities or septic systems. Damaged pipes can allow rain and ground water in to sewer lines or waste to escape into the environment.

Common regulations and best management practices (BMPs)

Waste generators are required to comply with all federal, provincial, municipal and regional regulations for proper waste disposal.

Under the Provincial Environmental Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, a waste generator may be held liable for any contamination or harm created as a result of the deposition or discharge of that waste. Proper disposal and management of wastes significantly reduces risks of environmental contamination and the requirement for remediation.

Proper storage, inventory of products and wastes, spills response plans and employee education on managing vehicle washing wastes are important factors in keeping our receiving waters clean.

To help you meet other municipal, provincial or federal conditions, or other agencies that may have additional requirements use BizPaL to help you identify permits and licenses required to operate your business.

Sanitary sewer - regulations and BMPs

All industrial, commercial or institutional facility who discharge non-domestic wastewater to the sanitary sewer system operated by the CRD must follow the requirements of CRD Bylaw 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw. The vehicle washing sector, as with many other sectors, have specific requirements under a codes of practice within the Sewer Use Bylaw.

Code of Practice for Vehicle Wash Operations prescribes the requirements and conditions for the preventing or limiting the discharge of prohibited and restricted wastes into the sanitary sewer system.

The following is a summary of the key requirements under the Bylaw and Code of Practice. (Schedule "N")

Please submit a Waste Discharge Assessment Form if you are unsure whether this code of practice applies to your business.

Although compliance with Sewer Use Bylaw may help you meet other municipal, provincial or federal conditions, other agencies may have additional requirements. Use BizPaL to help you identify additional permits and licenses required to operate your business.

Storm drains and catch basins - regulations and BMPs

Prevent stormwater contamination and protect our aquatic environment by ensuring that vehicle wash waste do not enter the storm drain network (which includes ditches, catch basins and roadways, etc.).

  • Educate staff about the spill prevention and response.
  • When hosing or washing equipment or surfaces outside, do not let the runoff water enter the storm drain.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain any parking lot catch basins.
  • Store waste products under covered areas with appropriate spill containment.

If you operate on the Saanich Peninsula (North Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney) then you need to know about Bylaw No. 4168 requirements.

Septic system - regulations and BMPs

Wastewater pre-treatment is not specifically required under CRD Bylaw 3479 - Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Bylaw. However, non-domestic waste, such as vehicle washing waste should not be discharge to a septic system. The discharge of high levels of non-domestic waste will significantly increase maintenance costs of the septic system and reduce its useful life span.

Trucked liquid waste - BMPs

Liquid waste haulers can be hired to responsibly manage any fluids associated with a vehicle wash operation.

It is important to note that the waste generator retains ownership of the waste even after it has been turned over to a waste hauler. This means the generator can be held responsible for the consequences of a spill or improper disposal of waste.

For that reason, it is important to ensure that the hauler you hire can demonstrate that they are:

  • properly licensed;
  • have properly trained staff; and,
  • will deal with your waste in a safe, responsible, legal and diligent manner.

Read the Regulations

The Code of Practice for Vehicle Wash operations, developed under CRD Bylaw No. 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw, gives a detailed description of the regulations that these businesses need to follow.

Code of Practice

Useful Documents

Guide Book

Maintenance Log

What are prohibited & restricted wastes?

Read the list of prohibited and restricted wastes, including details on maximum allowable concentrations.