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Power Washing: Dispose of Wash Water Legally

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Is power washing illegal? Power washing, also known as pressure washing, is not illegal, but there are restrictions on how the wash water is to be disposed. 

Do these restrictions apply only to businesses? Restrictions apply to businesses and individuals.      

What happens to the wash water when we wash things off outside? Wash water may fall on landscaping, or it may flow into the gutter where storm drains are located. Storm drains are the grates in the street and parking lots that drain rainwater and snowmelt away. 

Where do these drains lead to? These drains lead directly to our local waterways, without treatment, and eventually flow into Clear Creek and the South Platte River, which are used by downstream communities for irrigation and drinking water.

What are our responsibilities?  We are not allowed to contaminate another’s water supply and cities in Colorado are required to control the discharge of any potential contaminants that could end up in our storm drain. The dirty water that is left after power washing often contains mud, soap, dirt, metals, oil, grease and other pollutants. Federal, State and local regulations on how wash water can be disposed are designed to improve water quality in rivers and streams by reducing the amount of pollutants carried to downstream communities.

What should businesses be aware of when approached by local companies offering to conduct power washing? Businesses should be aware that power washers must capture wash water, collect it in containers, and dispose of it properly, such as into an interior drain or onto landscaping.

Who is responsible if a power washing company does not properly dispose of was water? If wash water and all of its pollutants flows into the storm sewer, the property owner could be liable for a violation of the City’s Ordinance and the federal Clean Water Act. There are many reputable local companies who have purchased the equipment needed to dispose of wash water legally and safely. Only hire those who are prepared.