Mobile Washing and Fueling: Non-Stormwater Discharges

There are multiple layers of stormwater permits that might apply to a single commercial or industrial facility, this blog assembles tips for vehicle washwater disposal.

There are multiple layers of stormwater permits that might apply to a single commercial or industrial facility. For example, a transportation facility in an urban setting might need their own National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

This is typically done via a general permit, such as the US EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Idaho or the Industrial General Permit (IGP) in California. This is largely based on the facilities standard industrial classification (SIC) code (see the discussion in our 2020 Environmental Risks Webinar). In addition, a facility might also fall under the jurisdiction of a municipal or MS4 stormwater permit (e.g. Minnesota MS4 Program Guide – page 12).

For some states, like Missouri Department of Natural Resources, they explicitly state that if fueling or truck cleaning is done outside then a permit is required. However, not all trucking and warehouse companies need to file for a MSGP, IGP, etc. They might do outdoor truck washing and/or fueling, but in those situations they are regulated under local, regional, or state requirements for non-stormwater (or wastewater) discharges.

Vehicle and Equipment Washing

Generally, states and municipalities require a facility to pick one of the three options available for vehicle washwater disposal.

Those options are:

  1. Discharge to surface water under a NPDES wastewater permit (requires treatment on-site)
  2. Contain and dispose of washwater at a Publicly Operated Treatment Works (POTW) or other waste disposal facility
  3. Dispose to a POTW via the sanitary sewer (requires a discharge permit from the POTW)

For specific examples of how some states manage vehicle and equipment washing, we assembled the relevant references:

In addition to the state requirements, some cities have enacted ordinances and put out their own permit. One example is the City of Calabasas (California). Here is the info on Mobile Car Washing, their Ordinance on having a Mobile Car Wash and the city’s Mobile Car Wash Permit.

For general guidance and Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Vehicle and Equipment Fueling

The other activity for transportation facilities that often comes up is about the stormwater impacts related to mobile fueling. Like vehicle washing, the regulatory environment is a mixture of state and local requirements and ordinances. Depending on a facility’s SIC code, fueling may be a regulated industrial activity, which if conducted outside would subject the facility to a state-level general permit (e.g. the California IGP or Oregon 1200-Z).

Some examples:


So what does this all mean for a facility? It means that you need to dig into the details of the local and state ordinances and regulations regarding vehicle and equipment washing and fueling. They are location specific, so if you have 30 facilities you oversee across 20 states, you will be looking into at least 20 state and 20 city permits/regulations (plus likely looking at 20 regional ones too). In addition, you have to consider that the state Department of Environmental Protection might cover mobile washing and mobile fueling, while the state fire marshal also covers fueling operations.

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