Sustainability, conservation and smart use of resources are words on everyone’s lips in our industry of late.
Quite often, there is always something we can do better to save the environment; whether it’s using renewable energy sources, finding more cost-effective water recycling systems, or something as simple as using more bio-degradable products in the office.
CCI are playing their part in the turf industry and have for the past 15 years with the distribution and installation of their Wash Bay systems, in partnership with the manufacturers ESD Waste2Water in USA.
Wash Bay systems are nothing new. In fact their popularity peaked in Australia during our drought years ago due to their ability to help recycle and in turn, save water.
But CCI Managing Director Mike Baker says only now are they being implemented for the right reasons.
“The introduction of wash bays really got a boost for the wrong reasons; the Government decided to back their introduction by offering subsidies because it was saving water, not because it protected the environment.
I think now it’s re-emerging as a priority with a number of facilities whose main motivation today is to be compliant with the regulations of discharge of water, and have a better environmental responsibility,” he says.
Baker says it has been common in the past for maintenance and workshop facilities to have enlisted the help of an oil-water separator to remove oil based contaminants from water before it is discharged. Unfortunately this doesn’t separate emulsified oils or hydrocarbon based chemicals – which covers most products used in the turf industry.
“An oil-water separator is useless for any chemicals other than oil because it works on the idea that oil floats and they can skim it off the top. But as soon as you get into washing, using detergents or high pressure, those oils become emulsified, and then it won’t even separate,” he says.
The ESD Waste2Water Wash Bay system firstly screens out the large solids such as dirt and grass clippings, settles and purges out any residual very fine particles, uses bioremediation in the form of microbes to basically “consume” any hydrocarbon based contaminants from the wash water and then ‘polishes’ the treated water with ozone for bacterial control so the finish water can then be re-used within the closed loop wash system.
Baker has noticed the shift in mindfulness is quite diverse with CCI recently planning installations of the ESD systems at La Trobe Golf Course, Eastlink’s freeway maintenance area, The Australian Golf Course in Sydney, Technigro in Queensland and just this month at Holmesglen TAFE Glen Waverley campus.
Former Royal Melbourne GC Superintendent, Jim Porter is now a Senior Educator on Environment and Lifestyle at Holmesglen College in Glen Waverley and has been pushing for a more environmentally friendly wash down procedure for some time.
“We’ve never really had an area or a process in terms of how to deal with that washing down of equipment, but it’s always been a bit of a concern of ours.
We want to do things the correct way, particularly because we are a teaching institute, we are governed by process. We have a number of rainwater tanks that collect the rain water off the building so we’re trying to save resources as well as protect from any contaminated discharge so this is just our next step in sustainability,” says Porter.
While the Wash Bay system carries practical importance for the college’s maintenance department, Baker and Porter both say it will add educational value to students in environmental or sustainability studies, where it will also be used as a training tool.
“You’ve got to look at where your waste goes, and Holmesglen are really taking the students into the next generation of environmental responsibility with what happens to all of this wash water,” Baker says
Porter says they are looking forward to using the new system for its environmental benefits, as well as the bonus of saving water onsite.
“The pollutants involved in the wash water have previously just gone into the ground or sewer or storm water which is not correct or good for the environment, but then also this system allows you to minimise how much water you’re using by being a relatively closed system, so you’re reducing the amount of water that you’re using on a whole,” says Porter.
According to Baker most wash bays at golf courses, turf facilities and even Council depots are not discharge compliant.
“I see it all the time”, Baker said. “Wash water going straight to storm water or the environment where it can get into waterways. At best some have a Trade Waste Agreement
which at least gets past EPA regulations but then highlights contaminated discharge to sewer issues”.
“The real problem with Trade Waste Agreements is how does anybody know what’s in that wash water? The Water Authorities could take a sample today and set safe levels of discharge but in six months’ time there could be chemical spills, different maintenance practices with an increase in solids and it’s still all going into the sewer.
It’s totally wrong, but there are many places at the moment that are getting away with it.”
“There are a lot of golf courses that honestly – if the EPA walked in – I think they’d close the facility tomorrow, but because there haven’t been practical solutions until now people have just continued with old habits,” says Baker.
Somewhere in the future Baker hopes wash bay systems will be a compulsory requirement for golf courses, council depots, parks maintenance and many more locations, but for now it is just a matter of CCI continuing to push the industry for greater environmental responsibility.
“The technology is there. It’s up to us to supply it at an affordable level so that these golf courses and other maintenance facilities can comply with regulations. There are responsibilities on both sides – for us to provide the adequate equipment, and for the customer to comply. If that happens then both sides will benefit,” says Baker.