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New tunnel wash on well and septic system

Douglas54

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I am a newbie getting ready to build a tunnel conveyor wash on a lot with no access to city water / sewer. I'm wondering if anyone has done this or currently operates a tunnel system on a well and septic system. We plan to have a water reclaim, too.
 

Axxlrod

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Newbie. First tunnel. No water. No sewer. Well water. Reclaim. Yikes. Good luck.
 

MC3033

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Sounds like a headache. I don’t know of any tunnel with those conditions but I’m sure it is doable.

I imagine with septic that means that the water is draining out near by into a field or something? I can see some potential issues there. Even after going through a settling system the water is going to come out colored and dirty. Could lead to unpleasant smells

I would speak to a water expert who works with car washes. I’d avoid your average car wash consultant or distributor with these questions and only go to a true expert.

The quality of the well water and pump sizes will be important questions. I’d expect to use a large softening system (and a lot of salt) as well as some other treatment options unless you are told otherwise

good luck!
 

mac

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Well at least you are not afraid of daunting challenges. And this would be one. If you do not know how to size, install, and set up a complete wash system do not do this. Take the money you would have spent, but a nice looking twenty something, and take her to the Bahamas for a month. Also the vast majority of places will not allow to to discharge the wastewater to a septic system.
 

Kramerwv

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My dad ran a tunnel for years that was supplied by well water but he discharged into city sewer. Can’t imagine how you’d do that part.
 

Douglas54

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Well at least you are not afraid of daunting challenges. And this would be one. If you do not know how to size, install, and set up a complete wash system do not do this. Take the money you would have spent, but a nice looking twenty something, and take her to the Bahamas for a month. Also the vast majority of places will not allow to to discharge the wastewater to a septic system.
We are working with an experienced car wash consultant on this project. Also, we plan to use a water reclaim system rather than "discharging" to a septic field. Looking for more specifics other than discouraging comments. Specifically, what challenges?
 

MGSMN

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Having enough well water GPM to run a wash may be a challenge, you may need storage tanks and boost pumps to compensate. I have not been to a wash that used a septic system but I would imagine the tanks and drain field requirements would be excessive to accommodate the amount of water through the system compared to a typical single family home, especially if the soil has a poor percolation test. This assumes as Mac stated that you are allowed to use a septic system for your project. Reclaim in itself is a challenge but washes still use fresh water for rinsing, water softening, chemical applications and spot free. If the reclaim system is going to be "closed loop" meaning NO discharge to sewer/septic those are super challenging and they could be a separate discussion. Three phase power will also be required, however I have seen small washes use a phase generator.

Links:

Aqua Bio
Clewer
 
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MEP001

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You can definitely run a tunnel with zero sewer/septic discharge (although you would need minimal of one or the other for restrooms). The key is to have an effective and efficient reclaim system. The small amount of reject can be used to water the grass.
 

JGinther

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Nothing's impossible. Just doesn't seem logical or feasible. I think you should quit looking for a 'reclaim system' and instead look into what it takes to be a water treatment facility. 1st stop before that would be to verify you can use septic for car wash water in your county, then next would be to see if there is a septic engineer out there who would be willing to take it on. I would do all of that before even talking with the equipment rep. And I would stay away from anything hydraulic in your equipment design.
 

Douglas54

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Having enough well water GPM to run a wash may be a challenge, you may need storage tanks and boost pumps to compensate. I have not been to a wash that used a septic system but I would imagine the tanks and drain field requirements would be excessive to accommodate the amount of water through the system compared to a typical single family home, especially if the soil has a poor percolation test. This assumes as Mac stated that you are allowed to use a septic system for your project. Reclaim in itself is a challenge but washes still use fresh water for rinsing, water softening, chemical applications and spot free. If the reclaim system is going to be "closed loop" meaning NO discharge to sewer/septic those are super challenging and they could be a separate discussion. Three phase power will also be required, however I have seen small washes use a phase generator.

Links:

Aqua Bio
Clewer
What are the challenges of reclaim systems?
 

MEP001

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What are the challenges of reclaim systems?
High initial cost, high maintenance, high cost of maintenance, risk of reclaimed water stinking, risk of damage to equipment running on reclaimed water, buildup on walls and equipment from undertreated reclaim water, a need to run more expensive water-based hydraulic fluid, and a perception by the public that reclaim water is bad for their car. I recall seeing in one of the trade magazines an article about a tunnel using reclaim that got the water so pure that they had fish living in the holding reservoir.
 

MC3033

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risk of reclaimed water stinking, risk of damage to equipment running on reclaimed water, buildup on walls and equipment from undertreated reclaim water
I would consider these sure things. Not that reclaim might not be worth it for someone but these are realities. Every ‘no smell’ reclaim system I’ve ever smelled was far from it
 

sparkey

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I have to wonder if this is even legal? I was going to buy an old small bank in a small town without city sewer and put a petwash in. The EPA told me that the dog shampoo was industrial waste and it could not go into a septic system. They told me I would need to install tanks to collect the waste and have a certified hauler take it to a disposal site. This was for shampoo! Of course this was during the Obama years when the mud puddle in your back yard was considered a nationally protected waterway.
 

JMMUSTANG

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Tell us what type of tunnel car wash your looking to build? Full service, Express, Exterior or combo?
Length of wash, touchless or touch, layout and type of tunnel equipment, if touch what type of material for brushes curtains(s) because they can get dirty.
Based on the type of wash and projected volume how many dividing pits will you have to separate the bulk water sledge down to a level that you can be able to start the process of cleaning the water for reuse.
Where are you going to store the vast amount of water that you will need for wash high volume?
How are you going to maintain the sludge smell???

We all understand the RO part, believe me when I say that’s a give me, but I would have to worry about longevity of the RO unit(s) not only because of the “recycled” water but because your new to this and you will have A LOT going on for you in regards of running the whole operation.
 

Earl Weiss

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. Looking for more specifics other than discouraging comments.
As with many things the question is not "Can you...?" But "How much will it cost?" "Does it make any sense from a business standpoint?"

This pretty much sums it up " 1st stop before that would be to verify you can use septic for car wash water in your county, then next would be to see if there is a septic engineer out there who would be willing to take it on. I would do all of that before even talking with the equipment rep. "
 

MC3033

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We are working with an experienced car wash consultant on this project. Also, we plan to use a water reclaim system rather than "discharging" to a septic field. Looking for more specifics other than discouraging comments. Specifically, what challenges?
has your consultant done this before? Do they have any active sites like this you can go visit and talk with the owner? That could go a long way in making this work for you
 

Axxlrod

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What are the challenges of reclaim systems?
We are working with an experienced car wash consultant on this project. Also, we plan to use a water reclaim system rather than "discharging" to a septic field. Looking for more specifics other than discouraging comments. Specifically, what challenges?
You asked a question, and you received many responses. The fact that most are discouraging you to embark on this project should tell you something.

As a newbie, there are myriad questions that you don't know the answers to and many more things that you don't know that you don't know.

I've seen a few washes that are closed loop/well water, and not a single one was a facility I would wash my personal vehicle at.

My humble advice to you is to find another site that has water and sewer connections.
 

MEP001

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My humble advice to you is to find another site that has water and sewer connections.
I'm not saying this is bad advice, but I've seen done what OP is looking to do, in fact a lot of full-serve and EE washes around here have full reclaim and have septic/sewer only for restrooms. Getting a test of the well water quality could be a game-changer - within 100 miles of me the well water quality ranges from just a few grains per gallon to over 400.
 
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