Protect our Waterways with these Pressure Washing Tips


Although convenient for cleaning surfaces and equipment, pressure washing runoff can release contaminants into the storm system. Grease from food dumpster areas, sediment from driveways and walkways, and auto fluids from parking lots and drive-throughs mix with water and are carried to storm drains where they flow to our ponds, streams and rivers without being treated.

This type of discharge is considered illicit and can not only negatively impact natural systems, but can also lead to hefty fines.

Follow these tips to stay in compliance and protect our local waterways!

Planning: Before you begin work, identify all storm drains, determine how wash water will flow and how you will block, direct and collect it (e.g. plugs, booms, rubber drain mats, berms, etc.).

Pre-Cleaning: Use dry methods to pre-clean as much of the surface as possible. Clean up any oil or grease with absorbent pads, booms or powder. Sweep or vacuum up dirt, debris and trash. Remove this dry waste from the work area before beginning to use water.

Washing: Use as little water as possible to complete the job. This will minimize the amount you have to collect and dispose of. Use heat and pressure whenever possible to reduce the need for detergents or chemicals. Even biodegradable or “nontoxic” cleaners can pose a threat to rivers, especially when they mix with oils, greases, metals and auto fluids.

Capturing: In the Planning step, you should have identified how you plan to collect the wash water. As you are working, verify that all water is being captured by your containment measure and none is escaping to the street, gutter or storm drain.

Disposal: This water has picked up contaminants during the cleaning process and should NEVER be poured, pumped or dumped in the street or down a storm drain. Use a portable pump, wet/dry vac or mop and bucket to dispose of the captured water to the sanitary sewer, and sweep up any visible solids that remain.


Posted: 5/17/22