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 listed below:

Storm - 18588
Sanitary - 19991

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 pollutants.

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 Ordinance 19991. 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 other additive.

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 and/or soil.

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 not leak.

Washing Options

  • 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 ordinance #19991.

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 entrances/exits, etc.

  • Keep BMPs in place until you finish all washing activities and all wash waters have been processed.

After washing
Throw used absorbent material and sediment into a trash container, which is covered and does not leak.

Common violations
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 evaporate.
  • Failing to use BMPs during the implementation of Option 2 because the wash water (wastewater) appeared "clean".