Instructions for Outside Washing
This document provides guidelines for the disposal of wastewater
generated from activities associated with outside washing of
property. This includes, but is not limited to, the cosmetic
cleaning of streets, parking lots, sidewalks, building walls and
roofs. This does not include the cleaning of the outside of
vehicles. All discharges to a City of Tulsa sewer system, must
comply with the applicable requirements set forth in the City of
Tulsa's code of revised ordinances. The specific ordinances
pertaining to discharges to the storm and sanitary sewers are
- 18588Sanitary -
Please be advised that Federal Law requires the Stormwater
Quality Section of the City of Tulsa's Streets and
Stormwater Department to stringently enforce both of these
sewer use ordinances. Persons violating either ordinance may be
fined, imprisoned or both.
Disposal of anything other than storm water into the storm sewer
system is unlawful. The only exception is if your wash water does
not carry pollutants into the storm sewer system. Proof such as
analytical results of proposed/past discharges may be required to
establish that the subject discharge(s) do/did not contain
Conversely, it is also unlawful to discharge stormwater to the
sanitary sewer. Further, the pollutants contained in wastewater
discharged to the sanitary sewer may not exceed levels set forth by
Sanitary sewer discharges of certain washing processes may be
subject to other Federal or local regulations and may require
approval prior to discharge. Contact the Quality Assurance Section
if you believe (or are unsure if) your discharge will be subject
these additional regulations. To contact Stormwater Quality, please
call (918) 591-4393.
Following these instructions will help insure that you and/or
your company stay in compliance with the Pollution ordinance,
protect area water quality and avoid enforcement action.
Absorbents - Materials capable of absorbing (i.e., oil
dry, sawdust, absorbent booms or pads).
Best Management Practices (BMP) - The best available practices
or devices that, when used singly or in combination, reduce the
contamination of surface and/or ground waters.
Chemicals - Detergents, surfactants, degreasers, or any
Heated Water - water that has been heated to a temperature
greater than 10° F of the ambient air temperature.
Pollutants - A waste material that contaminates air, water
Storm sewer system - A conveyance, including but not
limited to roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch
basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, manmade channels or storm drains
that are designed or used for conveying storm water directly into
area waterways. Also referred to as the Municipal Separate Storm
Sewer System (MS4).
Sanitary sewer system - A drainage system that begins at
drains inside buildings and ends at the wastewater treatment plant,
where all water is treated before it discharges to the waterways.
This system does not include any outside drains, because they are
part of the storm sewer system.
Before You Wash
Remove all litter, including cigarettes, paper and other
floatable materials from the surface you are preparing to wash.
This may require sweeping and inspecting the area.
Remove all liquid pollutants (e.g., anti-freeze, oil, gasoline)
by using absorbent material or other means.
Dispose of all waste into a dumpster, which is covered and does
- You must choose one of the two following wash options.
- These options are in order of preference, with option 1
considered the most desirable.
Option 1 - Capture all wash waters
This option must be used if chemicals and/or heated water is
used at any time during the cleaning process.
During cleaning, capture all wash waters for disposal.
Wash waters maybe disposed into the sanitary sewer at the
location the wash waters are generated or off site in an
environmentally acceptable manner. At no time can the wash waters
be discharged into the storm sewer system.
Remove and then dispose of any grit or sludge material in trash.
DO NOT dispose of this material into the sanitary sewer, it is
unlawful as per City of Tulsa ordinance #19991.
Use only chemicals that will not result in a violation of the
Option 2 - Do not capture wash waters
If you choose this option, chemicals and/or heated water cannot
be used at anytime during the cleaning process.
Employ BMPs, such as chemical or hydrocarbon absorbents,
filters, screens, or any practice that will remove pollutants from
the wash waters if this option is used.
Wash waters must filter through the absorbents before entering
the storm sewer. When washing pavement, place the appropriate BMPs
(hydrocarbon absorbents pads, filters, screens or booms) at the
point where water leaves the wash area or property or at the storm
sewer inlet (if possible). This will remove pollutants which
otherwise would have been discharged to the storm sewer. This could
be at the storm sewer drop boxes, inlets, parking lot
Keep BMPs in place until you finish all washing activities and
all wash waters have been processed.
Throw used absorbent material and sediment into a trash container,
which is covered and does not leak.
The most common violations include:
- Using chemicals and/or heated water during the cleaning process
but failing to collect and properly dispose of the wash waters
(wastewater). This includes allowing the wash waters to sit and
- Failing to use BMPs during the implementation of Option 2
because the wash water (wastewater) appeared "clean".