Water reclamation

Long story short, a guy I met at a bni meeting had just bought a pressure washing franchise- araya clean. From the research I’ve done, it costs similar to a fish window cleaning franchise(50-100k, or more if you want). The deal with araya clean is that the sell you the unit and trailor with your franchise, but they also get you into reclamation. I get the concept of reclaiming water, and I know it has alot to do with state guild lines. I also understand that this makes your pressure washing “green” more or less because your not leaving what you removed from the surface there, or letting it go down the sewer. I got a kick out of talking to the guy, all he could tell me was that the did “Eco friendly pressure washing” and his machine was bigger and better then anyone’s in town.

Me-“so how big is your unit”
Me-“really… How many gpm”?
Franchisee-" uh, we’ll , I’d have to ask one of the technicians…"

i won’t get into a rant of how stupid people who buy franchises are(because there are exceptions). I won’t rip the guy apart for being sold a unit and brig told to go find pressure washing work and paying 100k , when in reality you could go buy the best hot skid on the market, go do your sales yourself, and save 80k. I more want to know about the reclamation process he’s doing in order to see of its necessary to try and “compete” with it.

So I have a bit more research to do for my state, but are any of you guys doing reclamation? Why/why not? Seems like the set ups arnt cheap, but I haven’t been able to find very good pricing anywhere. Any experts wanna share some tips/info? Greatly appreciated.

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I don’t have and answers for you Dave, but this was a conversation I was having with my brother this weekend. He lives in Colorado for a large construction company that runs a bunch of heavy equipment. They have to have their equipment pressure washed on the job site as they are onsite for weeks and months at a time. In Colorado, they can’t let any of the grease, oils and diesel fuel get into the soil. The guys that do their pressure washing have a large mat the trucks drive onto and it’s supposed to catch all the junk that falls off. The problem is the big dozers are too heavy to drive up on the mats and the pumps that try to pick up all the toxic fuel runoff gets clogged every few minutes and it takes hours to do any thing. There has to be a better way. How do you other pros handle these situations?

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This has been a hotly debated subject for the last 5+ years. Unfortunately Pressure Washing Distributors/Contractors are now working with Local, State & Federal Environmental Officials to help “Advise” the rules and wording of Regulations that will be coming down the road. The Advice (Thinly Veiled) is “The Solution Is Hi-Tech Equipment”. Contractors (That already have this equipment) are jumping on the train because they have & you have not.

Truth is we all want to protect the environment but how far is too far. Do you want to help the environment because it’s the right thing to do, or to sell reclaim equipment that may or may not be needed, or sell more jobs?

In Houston TX they have a police force that handles Environmental enforcement. Everything from illegal trash dumping to businesses dumping paints & oils down storm drains…Want to guess who else is included in this sorry group of individuals??? Yep Pressure Washers. We have been targeted as “Major Offenders” by Houston TX. I have seen the videos. It’s disgusting.

Educate yourself on your Local & State regulations on pressure washing. If you can’t find the info type in…Your Area Pressure Washing BMP this stands for…Best Management Practices.

FYI…In most cases (Depending on the job) you can use a sump- pump to divert waste water to a landscaped area… In most cases If you’re pressure washing sidewalks with no soap the water can go down a storm drain. In some cases you can get permission from the City waste treatment plant and sump your waste water directly to the sanitary sewer.

I would also advise watching for “Public Discussions” in your area Governments about Pressure Washing Regs. If you do not become involved rules will be made that can impact the way you make a living. I went to one in Charlotte NC a few years back, they (Charlotte) wanted a regulation to require reclaim for house washing!!! Because of the number (And input) of pressure washing Contractors in the room they quickly backed away from this.

Back when I had a “Regular Job” I was a Grade II Waste Water Operator certified by NC for 12 years.

If I can Help with any questions post here or PM me.


Thanks Guy, great information.

Guy is a valuable, no BS resource on this stuff.
Glad you’re here, Guy! Thanks for the information.

Dave, unfortunately he was sold a “Dream” without looking into the “Whole Picture”. And I would like to tell you it’s gonna get better but it’s not until our Industry bands together and fights unnecessary, over reaching environmental regulations of our Industry. It’s going to be a hard battle because leaders within our own pressure washing Industry have told environmental regulators that “pressure washers are a source of pollution” when the fact is we are the “Solution To Pollution” .

The EPA (Federal) has given State & Local Authorities the OK to enforce environmental regulations above & beyond the regulations of the EPA and the CWA (Clean Water Act). Which has now turned into a revenue stream (Fines, Permits, etc.) for cash strapped Cities. The EPA is giving grant money to Cities that are showing that they are enforcing environmental BMP’s which translates to giving pressure washers fines and possibly jail time.

Please understand I am not against protecting our environment, I am for common sense regulation.

There are times and/or specific areas of pressure washing that reclaim equipment is needed and would save the Contractor time and money, and if this is the case by all means get the equipment you need.


I know this subject can be touchy with some long time pressure washing guys as to whether or not buying the (expensive) equipment is worth it or not. However, I do have a long time friend who’s mother is a district manager for Wal-Mart (she oversees 15+ stores in North Florida) and she told me last year that when accepting bids for pressure washing their buildings, concrete and parking lot they could only hire companies who reclaimed all their water.

I know a lot of corporate companies get tax breaks by “going green.” Would this mean they could only hire companies who were also “green?” I’m not sure, but it definitely makes for interesting debate.

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Great question Andrew, and here’s where the confusion kind of begins. Who certifies your company (Pressure/Window) as “Green”? The Government? No…The State? No…The EPA? No. At this time none of them can, that I know of.

How many detergents or chemicals are certified by the EPA as “Green”???..Anybody???..Answer…None!..They Can’t.

Wal-Mart in Fla. may require reclaim, but I can tell you that we have washed 5 in the last 3 years that didn’t even ask about reclaiming, but of course we washed within the guidelines of our State or Local BMP.

Has anyone noticed the Parking Lot Remediation Zones (EPA Phase II) being built now with every Mall or box store? Storm water goes to these after it rains. These are not “State Waters” in some jurisdictions, and most State BMP’s say that you can’t have any “Off Property Discharge”. So is it ok to discharge waste water into these? More confusion.

Want to know the #1 polluter in the world…rain water run off…#2…Agricultural…

If these people are so worried about what goes in the ground…why are septic tanks not outlawed??? Double standard?

So why are little ole Pressure Washing Contractors being targeted as polluters, inside and outside of our Industry???.. Money.

I read an article that says it cost Small Business owners in the U.S. 350 Million dollars to comply with new Environmental Regulations each year.

Just Something to think about.

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Good post Guy. For the person who started this thread-- yup I’m one of the “suckers” that bought into a reclaiming type franchise. The tab was $90,000. I laid down $5000 and financed the rest. I did get about $50,000 in machinery which consisted of a custom trailer valued about $8000,a souped up steal eagle vacuum machine with 2 Steale Eagle surface machines, 2 large vacuum hose reals valued about $12,000 if not more. I also received a hot water 8gpm Powerwasher valued about $7000, a $3000 pump in here that can move certain size solids, a generator, 2 gum sucker type vacuum surface machines, 55 gallon drum of flocculent, the flock tank and mixer and of course the Swabby.

It took me the full 5 yrs to pay this off so the total cost me about $118,000 and in the middle of this the guy and his company go belly-up. I did get $30,000 paid back from this person, I sold my trailer set-up for $23,000 plus I got a brand new enclosed trailer and a 2 yr old 8gpm hot water skid which made the trailer sale with about $35,000. I never got any supposed work from this person because he lost his case in court and went bankrupted.

I did work my tail off doing large jobs with the Swabby even to this day which has paid me back the difference and then some but no-- it wasn’t worth it. The promise of work was why I bought in and some guys do real well with franchise type businesses. I figured heck I can do well with my own Powerwashing business then why not do a franchised business where I know there’s a ton of money in which is parking garages as well?

I’m still here today making money with my little business so I survived.

As for reclamation there is a time and place for that and it’s a cash cow if you can get some of those type jobs if you can handle them.

I lost a couple of college parking garage bids because I priced myself out with the reclaiming part. Reclamation is not hard but it is an exacting science to get all your ducks in a row where your compliant for what there bid request.

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Yea John but those swabby set ups were the heat. It was a well thought out system, man it was massive!

I will no doubt be looking into building a reclaim system at Some point, but because I want to not that I have to. It will cost around 7 k, and sit in the yard most of the time waiting for those here and there calls that I blow off now. Maybe I’ll make a buck or 2.

One of the things about building reclaim setups is they are like the ultimate challenge as far as machinery goes in this Industry. I have Roberts Hinderliters Multi-Tech system that can be built for less then $2000. If you take out that water seperator unit in there you can build his for under a $1000. You can also try and build your own.

My goal now is to take Roberts filtering setup and combine it with my vacuum setup to complete my system. For now I just used Roberts Pod system and it worked very well For what I was doing with this parking garage and the problem for me is dealing with the sludge.

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How sweet! That is the info that I wanted to hear and surprisingly this is what I was expecting! Thanks!

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