The vehicle washing sector provides a service to local residents and businesses. As part of the normal operation of a vehicle washing facility, liquid and solid wastes are generated. Generating waste products is not necessarily an environmental issue. However, how we manage the waste can have significant impact on our natural resources, public & private infrastructure, and human & environmental health associated with stormwater, wastewater & septic systems. The following resources are specific to the vehicle washing sector.

Common Regulations and BMP for stormwater, wastewater and septic systems use

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.

Requirements and BMP specific to sanitary sewer

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")

  • Refrain from discharging prohibited waste into the sewer system
  • Install treatment works, including interceptors which retain oil, grease and solids
  • Perform routine inspection and maintenance of treatment works (see Trucked Liquid Waste for service providers)
  • Prepare a spill response plan and post signage
  • Keep accurate records

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.

Requirements and BMP specific to septic system

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.

Requirements and BMP specific to stormdrains and catch basins

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 4168 requirements.

Requirements and BMP specific to trucked liquid wastes

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.

Why wastes from vehicle washing facility operation are a concern in our stormwater, wastewater and septic systems

Vehicle wash wastes that go down the drain into the sanitary sewer, stormdrain 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.

What is considered a vehicle washing facility operations

A vehicle wash facility includes operations in the washing of the exterior of vehicles by any commercial, industrial or institutional operation or by a public authority. 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