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Where to put dirty water

Posted by stevegunn (Steve Gunn), 12 January 2004
Got my wrists slapped today from enviromental health i emptied my dirty water at the roadside normally i put it down the customers toilet but she would not have it. Embarassed
Upto £20000 fine for emptying dirty water down storm drains watch what your doing lads.
Posted by Northerclean (Alex), 12 January 2004
Hi Steve,

I had a problem with an Asia guy who wouldn't let me put my dirty water down the toilet, however, I told him the chemicals in the water had to be put down the toilet as it goes to the sewage works. He still told me to empty down the grid - I told him unless I put the dirty water down the toilet I couldn’t continue the job!

I heard about the fines and no job is worth the risk!!

Hope you got away with just a slap mate


Posted by strakercleaning (strakercleaning), 12 January 2004
Cheers to Steve for the heads up Grin
I thought we were allowed to empty into the drains unless solvents (5%+) were involved Undecided surely waste water is mostly rinse and very diluted prespray Huh
Where would i find guidelines on such a subject?
Posted by md_cleaning (md_cleaning), 12 January 2004
I usually put water down the toilet if working close to it, but when near a drain have always poured it straight down, saves walking over cleaned carpets, but will be more carefull now. Thanks for that.
Posted by woodman (woodman), 12 January 2004
Yes must go down the toilet I'm afraid not down the storm drain system.

If the client refuses,although I don't know why they would, then lift the ouside sewer drains cover and tip it down there.

Posted by STEVE71163 (Steve Lowe), 12 January 2004
Hi Steve
           Thanks for that information. Like Dave above i normally put down the toilet but if it means walking over a clean carpet i normally would put down the drain Embarassed

Posted by Ken_Wainwright (Ken Wainwright), 12 January 2004
A passion of mine. It's always prefered to dispose of waste water down a toilet, if not a foul drain. NEVER a storm drain. A simple guide to drains around a house is drain pipes run into storm drains, kitchen sink and bathrooms run into foul drains. But never presume that an extended kitchen was done by a builder who cared enough to connect to the correct drain! All street drains are for rain water only. You shouldn't even wash your car/van  and allow the suds to run into the street and down the storm drain.

Why? A classic example occured in our village about 12 years ago. Over the years, people had had extensions, washing machines and dish washers installed. Some had the waste running into storm drains. This water then runs into the land, polluting the crops and fodder consumed by both animals and humans. But even more instantly recognised here in Alvechurch was that fish in the local streams were dying. Analysis showed that detergents were the major factor. Every house and business in the village received a visit from the Environmental Health Officer, enforcement notices were issued for faulty drainage installations, and within a month, everything was back to normal. If this sort of thing can happen in village, what must the problem be like in a town or city? I heard last spring of a West Midland CC being fined £5k for unloading his T/M into a storm drain.  So if Sir or Madam objects to you using their toilet, politely point out that the waste they deposit into the porcelain bowl is more obnoxious than your bit of gritty water Wink

Safe and happy cleaningSmiley
Posted by Dynafoam (Dynafoam), 12 January 2004
Where a convenient outside cover is not available, I tend to water the roses with the waste water rather than use the loo.

Apart from the fact that I don't like the idea of taking the filth back into the house, the grit can be near imposible to flush away.


PS The vast majority of my customers are repeats, so I have had ample opportunity to check for plant damage.
Posted by Dave_Parry (Dave Parry), 12 January 2004
Like most others I have sometimes used storm/Road drains. Never had a problem from a customer about using toilets, as like Ken when you point out what normally goes down there, they are OK about it. Only problem is that if the only toilet is upstairs, carrying 4 or 5 buckets upstairs is not only a chore but also risks spillage on nice clean carpets. But still better than a fine.
Also a full bucket of water usually gets rid of any sediment in the pan.
Posted by md_cleaning_york (md_cleaning_york), 13 January 2004
You learn something new everyday.My machine empties from the bottom so I have nearly always used outside drains.Never knew they went different places.Thanks for the warning
Posted by Ken_Wainwright (Ken Wainwright), 13 January 2004
Although I can see your logic in your reasoning John, I disagree with your practice. Your solutions and other pollutants will not only contaminate the immediate area, but will soak into the ground and move away with the natural and/or engineered land drainage, eventually finding it's way into our food chain and on into our streams and rivers. Plus, it must be an absolute pain picking all that hair and carpet fibre waste off Sir/Madams roses.

Safe and happy cleaningSmiley
Posted by strakercleaning (strakercleaning), 13 January 2004
Where might i find guidelines on where to dispose of waste water? Does it count if i empty buckets/machine into drains on customers premises? What is the fine for punching the official it less than the drainage fine Huh
Posted by Derek (Derek Bolton), 13 January 2004
Hi Chris

You need to contact your local water authority, apparently they all have differing views (Idon't think they talk to each other and haven't got their acts together yet).

Posted by strakercleaning (strakercleaning), 13 January 2004
Derek, Response is much appreciated........will try relevant authorities.
Posted by Dynafoam (Dynafoam), 13 January 2004

I take your point. I have taken the view that the biodegradeablity of the products and the small quantity involved would negate these problems.

However, I would hate to be blamed next time you get a beer that tastes a little soapy.

Posted by mike_halliday (mike_halliday), 13 January 2004
where does the water go when you go through your local carwash?

I would think if you asked them you'd find out what your local water authoritys policy is with regards disposal of waste water.

talking about chemicals going down storm drains, I would bet that more chemicals go down a storm drain in 1 rainy day than a year of naughty carpet cleaners, concidering that a cokktails of chemicals come out of car exhaust and settle on our roads until it rains then they are washed down the drains.

Ps I know I've spelt cokktail wrong but if i spell it right its replaced with 'thingy' Roll Eyes
Posted by Ken_Wainwright (Ken Wainwright), 13 January 2004
As far as I'm aware Mike, car wash sites have to have drainage which runs into the main sewer (foul drain). This would be dealt with during the planing/construction stage.

As for biodegradeability, for this to happen, oxygen is needed, which is absorbed from the water. A product which is highly biodegradeable will absorb oxygen more quickly and so degrade more quickly. This can and does create problems for fish and other life forms.

As for road pollutants running into the storm/land/river drainage systems, this does happen extensively. Spilt diesel fuel and oil on our roads is a major contributor to this type of pollution. I think that the authorities/water companies realise that they will only be able to contain rather than prevent the problem. The regulations which we are required to observe are one of the tools for containing the problem.

Perhaps, because I have grown up in a rural and agricultural environment, and have first hand experience of the consequences of different types of pollution, I probably embrace this topic more passionately than others. If I come over in a "Holyer than thou" type way, please forgive me, it's just the passion taking over.

Safe and happy cleaningSmiley
Posted by stevegunn (Steve Gunn), 14 January 2004
I know its not carpet cleaning but the enviromental health chap gave me this link to check as carpet cleaners are governed along the same sort of lines
Posted by Tony_Browning (Tony_Browning), 14 January 2004
Posted by Tony_Browning (Tony_Browning), 14 January 2004
wow your right!!!!  Grin
Posted by Kinver_Clean (Kinver_Clean), 15 January 2004
I heard a whisper (perhaps it is not correct) that waste water is to be made a trade waste and that would mean tanks in the van and trips to a 'designated disposal site' plus waste carriers licence etc etc etc etc....
Posted by Ian_G. (Ian_Gourlay), 15 January 2004
I would be interested to know where truck mount operators dispose of their water.  

Bit hard to put it down the loo.

I always thought it would be alright to put it on the roses.

Not into green thing myself but am convinced when I went to a village in Wales run along enviromentally friendly lines they used to use the washing up and bath water to water the plants and s... and p... to fertilise the cabage patch.

Posted by Glynn (Glynn), 15 January 2004
TM operators dont put it anywhere - they let their APO put it in the toilet, where it belongs.
Posted by mike_halliday (mike_halliday), 15 January 2004
I stick mine down the drain outside the customers house.

but as I only clean carpets that are'nt dirty & don't need cleaning I'm actually disposing clean water, so none of these comments apply to me Grin

Posted by Ken_Wainwright (Ken Wainwright), 18 January 2004
The advice we're always given is to contact our local water companies. I gather that this advice can vary from company to company. Many of us regularly work outside of our local areas. Is there a national authority who can give us a definitive answer? It's been mentioned earlier that there is gossip about having to take waste water to a treatment plant. Is this a topic officially being discussed? There could be implications to us all if we were looking to expand our business. For example, knowing of the likelyhood of the waste situation, it could make the difference between buying a new truckmount or a low moisture system. A clear picture needs to be taken.
Safe and happy cleaningSad

PS Mike, I know you jest, but it's the chemicals, not the soil that gives concern Shocked
Posted by Ian_G. (Ian_Gourlay), 19 January 2004
Thank goodness for you mike I thought I was the only one putting it into customers drains.

Posted by nick_warrenevans (nick_warrenevans), 19 January 2004
Very interesting read. I never thought twice about pouring waste down the storm drains.
I will now definately use the loo.
Thanks alot  Cheesy
Posted by Dave_Lee (Dave_Lee), 20 January 2004
A couple of years ago, I contacted our Water Authority and eventually got through to right person (The inspector in charge) I explained the problems of waste disposal in Carpet Cleaning. He told me that although its true the waste water should go down a foul drain, he had more important things to concern himself about than a few Carpet Cleaners disposing of a few gallons down the storm drain. Though I doubt hed repeat that in court.
Posted by Dynafoam (Dynafoam), 21 February 2004
I have re-opened this topic after a month because it has taken this long to get an answer.

I first contacted Anglian Water  and raised the question of disposing of the machine waste, after cleaning with micro splitters. I explained that on a typical job I might use an eggcupfull of product (mainly salts), diluted 1:16 with water, then rinse that out with a further ten gallons of water - so my effuent consisted of a little less than a eggcupfull of product, whatever came out of the carpet, plus water.

The first response was " That's nothing to get excited about, but I'd better check with my boss"

A few days later "My boss" phoned back to say that he agreed that tipping this into a storm drain would probably be less concern than " a bit of car washing" and would certainly not be a fraction of the problem caused by the council putting tons of alkaline salt on the roads but since I was a professional cleaner, it is technically trade effluent and could therefore not be put into the storm drain. I mentioned that I often tipped onto the soil in customers' garden.

I was given a name and 'phone number for the Environment Agency. After some protracted disscusion I was eventually phoned back and told that unless I was tipping directly into a watercourse, discharge of small quantities would have no noticeable impact on the environment, so provided the landowner was happy with the practice, "carry on watering the roses".

I know Ken will not be happy with this answer, and I respect his point of view, but I have never been happy running upstairs with buckets of dirty water to tip down the loo, so the garden option wins the day.

It should be noted that none of the answers given were put in writing.


Posted by Derek (Derek Bolton), 21 February 2004

Thanks for sourcing that information....I 'KNOW' the trouble that you must have gone through having tried myself on another matter some years ago..

In my particular enquiries I informed the guy that I didn't want to break the law and was seeking official guidance.... I asked about some form of directive ...Ha way.

I was told "Well you can do it that way (they way I suggested) but if one of our officers came and saw what I was doing 'they' would make a decision at that time and instigate proceedings if necessary".

I call that being really helpful...don't you

Sadly you will get similar replies form most of the official bodies..i.e. Customs & Excise, Health & Safety Excec. ..Inland Revenue! infinitum


Posted by Dynafoam (Dynafoam), 21 February 2004

If we CC's were only as helpful as most 'officials' this forum would not exist.

It was like trying to milk  an ant !!!


Posted by Dave_Lee (Dave_Lee), 22 February 2004
I again contacted NW United Utilities a few weeks ago about this subject. Eventually got the right person, explained the problem us CCs have, his answer was :- Never put the dirty water down a storm drain - its okay to put down the household open drain from the kitchen sink, but to make sure sure it goes to the foul, as it may have been modified. Special permission required from the Highways Dept to lift a Manhole. He suggested the simplest answer and one that he would prefer was to empty over grassland, the roadside grass verge for example.
Posted by strakercleaning (strakercleaning), 22 February 2004
Maybe Microsplitters are the detergents in the water you throw away Grin
They must be as eco friendly as you can get Huh
Posted by Dave_Parry (Dave Parry), 22 February 2004
I've just rung Thames water about this and they have insisted that its trade effluent and even to put it down a toilet I have to have their permission. To get this I have to fill a form in, and they would "evalute" the application and maybe give me permission or a dispensation. My first reaction was to put the phone down, but as they already had my address, I let them send the form. The first thing I noticed was the demand for £70 without which they will not process the form. I think I will let it sit on my desk for a while to see if they follow it up.
Posted by Dynafoam (Dynafoam), 22 February 2004

Bet you wish you had not asked?

It is interesting that this is the first posting to this thread that had given any 'official' objection to the use of a toilet ( and by association, direct into the foul sewer ).

It seems that the majority of CC's use this method, thinking that they are doing the right thing.

How many water authorities would take the same view as Thames Water?

Although it is unlikely that anyone would be spotted in this practice, which in itself would encourage many to continue, there are probably many of us who wish to do 'the right thing' - whatever that may be?

I'll continue watering the roses.

Posted by poolking (poolking), 5 March 2004
This is a bit of a specialised subject of mine Grin , as I spent about 5 years surveying sewers ,pumping stations et al .

Firstly , the waste water should really be put down a Foul System , not a Storm System.

Herein lies the problem of recognising FS and SS AND the Combined System.

As a general rule of thumb , any property built post 1976 should have a seperate sewer system, as will the mains sewer system .The easiest and quickest way to spot a seperate system is to find a property close to where you are working and see how many inspection covers are visible. you will find that the new SS has 2 Inspection chambers , normally running parralel to each other , about 1-3 ft apart . This is indicative of a Seperate System.

As already mentioned on other replies , you then need to locate the FS within the SS - easily done by the Kitchen sink - THESE ALWAYS RUN INTO FS !!

On older properties pre 1974, the sewers are generally connected to a Combined System ,which will only have 1 inspection chamber, whereby both the rainwater downpipes and the FS pipes ( kitchen , toilets etc ) run through a single pipe . At these type of properties and the main Road sewer, you should be ok to throw your waste down any drain  you see fit , wether that be on the property itself or in the main road!.

A word of caution guys is for your customers who are slightly more 'rural'. You will still encounter customers whose Foul Waste goes into a septic tank . under no circumstances empty your waste anywhere near their property as any change in the PH of the tank or the addition of detergents , acid/alkalines etc will kill the septic tank . if you are found to have killed a tank and it has to be cleaned and restarted , you could be hit with a bill in the region of £1000 !!! you are far better to take your waste with you and dispose of it in a village/town drain , plus you will impress your customers with your new knowledge of their sewage systems!!Grin

car washes and/or fuel stations always have what is known as interceptor tanks on site , which prevent fuel and large amounts of detergents from entering the Storm System , hence they do not have any unsuitable waste entering the sewage systems.

Finally , do not always take on face value anything that a water company tells you about disposal of your water , as 95% don't know half of what I have told you above - I had to deal with these people for 5 years! . The only way to get real accurate advice about this would to either contact a specific sewage management department at the water company or a consulting engineer who surveys sewage systems.

Hope this essay helps you all to stay fine free... Grin Grin
Posted by Dave_Lee (Dave_Lee), 7 March 2004
I know my point maybe obvious, considering all the info you just gave. It also is more to do with late properties I guess, but these houses where the down pipes from gutters, kitchen sink, toilet etc. All go straight into the ground without any grid - are these likely to be on a dual system or a mono.
Posted by poolking (poolking), 7 March 2004
the simplest way of defining this is as follows:

built up areas:

post 1936 - mono or combined 1 pipe system - any grid will do

post 76 - generally 2 pipe seperate systems - try to locate foul pipe using kitchen grid as a locator.If there is no kitchen grid , which is rare , then tip into the street.

new estates(15 years or newer) ALWAYS seperate systems as building regs now dictate as such- as above!

rural communities:

Ask if customer is on a septic tank of any kind - THEY WILL KNOW!!!!. if they say yes , take your waste with you!!

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