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Car Wash Bays

Car washing is one of the leading causes of heavy metals, oils and greases and other contaminants getting into our rivers and streams since most storm drains go directly to those waterways.

There are a few simple things to add to a regiment that can drastically reduce the impact on the environment.

One thing we would like to focus on in today’s blog are the importance of vacuums and using them correctly.

Vacuums are great for cleaning up fine debris, but can be counter-productive if the dust is not contained inside the vacuum. Time and time again we have witnessed workers who will vacuum up dirt and debris, but then simply open up the vacuum container to dispose of the contents and it goes everywhere and eventually back on the ground. It is important to dispose of vacuum waste in an environment where wind and other elements cannot disturb the dust while emptying it into a trash container. Simply doing this indoors will greatly reduce the risk.

The fine particles of what a vacuum picks up are one of the most highly concentrated form of contaminant. We need to be more conscious about how we work with vacuums to make sure to protect our environment.

Fire Clean-Up: Erosion Control

As the rain gets underway, Sonoma County will have a new threat after the fires that decimated the area. The charcoal covered ground is susceptible to erosion due to the lack of vegetation holding it together.

Erosion is dangerous because it loosens the underlying layer of soil and can result in landslides. Erosion prevents vegetation from growing back and reestablishing a hold on hillsides.

There are a few solutions out there that can help with erosion control and the one that comes to mind usually first for anyone are straw wattles. Straw wattles are not the best solution because they will become heavy with water, produce odors from not being able to breath and eventually have weeds and grass grow into them and result in a labor intensive clean-up.

US Hydrotech provides a solution to this old way of doing business with erosion control. Ertec reusable wattles are sturdy, lightweight, efficient and economical. They can be installed with ease and allow water to filter through them as to not create backup which can produce odors.

There are many different variations of Ertec that can be custom made to the application as to provide the best possible solution.

Visit US for more information.

Porta-Pad: Santa Rosa Fire Clean Up

The firestorms that ravaged Sonoma County over the last few weeks have left devastation in their wake and now the long hard clean up begins.

The Porta-Pad is a versatile system built to withstand the most harshest environments.

During the fires, US Hydortech teamed up with North Bay Petroleum to help fuel fire vehicles and keep contaminants such as oil and gas contained in a safe area. The Porta-Pad was installed temporarily next to the fuel trucks so the fire trucks could drive on them and then begin the fueling process. Once the fueling process was complete, the fire trucks would drive off and continue their work.

A quick sweep with a broom helped keep the grass, dust and dirt separate from the oil and gas as to not create a hazardous material situation.

The Porta-Pad was installed quickly and was operational within minutes. It withstood the constant pounding of heavy fire trucks for two days straight.

It was then rolled up and taken away to be reused at the next location.

Overhead Booms Work Wonders

Washing cars can be time consuming, costly and physically demanding. There are plenty of “gimmick” car washing systems out on the market today and it can be hard to distinguish a heavy duty quality system from the copy-cats.

One of the most important components of a good car wash system is a dependable good quality pressure washer. A pressure washer saves time by covering more surface area with pressure to wash dirt and grime off quicker. A pressure washer also saves money by limiting the amount of water used when washing.

Having a good quality pressure washer is key for a good car wash system as stated above. Having said that, there is one necessary component of a good quality pressure washer that can’t be overlooked.

Overhead booms are rotating hoses attached to brackets and springs that allow perimeter washing while eliminating hoses dragging on the ground. Having an overhead boom will increase productivity by allowing a worker to wash faster and more accurate because the hose follows the worker above them and doesn’t interfere with any other components of the car washing system. Overhead booms also greatly reduce the risk if injury from tripping over hoses on the ground and help to prevent back injuries by allowing the worker to stay standing up straight and taking the weight of the hose off the worker and putting it on the spring system above them.

US Hydrotech has been installing overhead booms with their car wash systems for decades and has found the perfect combination of components to create a great quality, affordable and safe system that will last while being put to the test in harsh high volume car wash applications.

Call or email US Hydrotech for more information on your overhead boom system.

The Importance of Pressure Washers

Although we had a very wet winter, as the summer months approach, water conservation will again be a topic of discussion among business owners and city inspectors.

The wet winter presented a fantastic opportunity to get ahead of any potential drought by containing the rain water we’ve had so far and reducing the water we use throughout the summer.

Some things to focus on this summer are:

  • reducing water usage
  • increasing washing efficiency
  • reducing liability

Pressure washers can reduce water use 4 times, 8 times, even 10 times the normal pressurizing it, then discharging it through specially designed wands and tips that produce different types of spray that fit in line with whatever the job may be.

JP-2703-0MHB Dump Truck

A standard garden hose discharges water at an average rate of 10 gallons per minute. Lets say that a business uses the hose water for 5 minutes per application, five times a day. That’s 250 gallons per day of water use. Using simple math, one can determine that a business can use easily 65,000 gallons of water per year. Now using the same starting point, compared with a pressure washer, the results are dramatically different. A standard pressure washer uses about 3.5 gallons of water per minute. The pressured water cuts the work time from 5 minutes to 3 minutes (conservatively) but still washing the same amount of times, five. That’s 52.5 gallons of water per day. Using the same calculations we come to a total water use of 13,650 gallons of water used per year.

Using a pressure washer on every day chores will dramatically reduce water consumption and increase efficiency. For more information on pressure washers, visit

Flood Clean-up

Damage from a flood can be extensive and expensive. Using the proper tools can help facilitate the job and get you back up and running quickly.

Try and not let furniture sit in water for any amount of time if it can be helped. the sooner it’s removed from the water, the better chances you have of saving it. If you live in a flood plane, try to consider floods when purchasing furniture and arranging it in your house. If it’s possible, keep furniture with metal/steel legs downstairs which can withstand water longer than wood can.

Keep a pump in your house for emergencies such as a flood. If you have a basement, keep the pump down there as it’s likely the first place you’ll need it. dig trenches outside your house to help divert water away from it and keep sandbags handy for flood prevention and also afterwards to stand on as to not be wading in water.

A large floor squeegee can help push gallons of water off smooth floor surfaces in a matter of minutes and will allow surfaces to dry quicker.

After all water has been removed, an good industrial fan is a good tool to help dry out damp areas. These can be rented from most local hardware stores or rental companies.


Flood Prevention in the Community

The recent rainstorms have taken their toll on the entire Bay Area. Cities such as Guerneville, Rohnert Park, and Healdsburg were hit hard by this last storm causing millions of dollars in damages and the clean-up process has begun.

Flooding is an issue that starts small and rapidly grows exponentially until there is nothing that can be done except get out of the way and wait for the water to subside. Before a rain storm that could potentially lead to flooding, there are some relativity simply steps that can be taken on an individual level to help reduce the risk of flood damage.

When assessing your own property, a simple survey of the land can help you identify if the property slopes in any particular direction. look for low spots in your land that could fill up with flood water and make sure to remove anything of value from the area that you don’t want under water to higher ground. Digging troughs or trenches can divert water to the proper areas which won’t backup and produce flooding. If your house is in a flood zone, make sure to have plenty of sandbags on hand and build walls in front of doors, windows and any other vulnerable spots around the foundation to prevent water from creeping in.

Assessing your own property is the first step, but it doesn’t stop there. Looking beyond your property at neighboring properties and or city drainage systems can benefit everyone. Talk to your neighbors to make sure they are prepared and are not inadvertently diverting water away from their property onto yours. One of the most common ways flooding occurs is when city storm drains get clogged with debris and prevent water from flowing down the drain. This can easily be avoided by taking a rake to the storm drains located near your property to remove loose debris. During a heavy rain storm, it’s important to check storm drains regularly because water can carry debris easily to a clean storm drain.

Although water is unpredictable, practicing these few easy steps can help prevent floods from happening. Please look to US Hydrotech for storm drain products to help prevent drains from clogging or letting contaminants enter our waterways.


First Flush – BMP Containment

As the rainy season premiers, we once again have to consider how it will affect our businesses and personal lives.

Businesses must take special precautions to prevent contamination from overflow. Overflow happens when land and man made structures fill up with rain water and then overflow into the surrounding areas. “First Flush” as it is called, is the most important time of the rainy season because it’s when the highest levels of contaminants are present in any given situation due to the lack of rain. The heavy metals, oils and greases found in a lot of man made structures can contaminate the surrounding area if not properly contained and disposed of.

It is important to cover up exposed areas like the ones described above or move them inside. For raw land, create a drainage system for channeling overflow water and directing it to a safe area.

Cleaning and keeping clean areas of potential contamination build-up with dramatically help reduce the risk of overflowing contaminated water.

When dealing with storm drains, it is important to assess each drain location individually becuase where some drains might benifit from a simple filter, others might need to be blocked off completely to prevent heavy loads of contamination. Conventional “witch hats” are cheap but without constant maintenance, can actually make matters worse if they get too heavy with dirt and clog, they can collapse into the storm drain. Witch hats also prevent sampling by inspectors. The best solution for this is the Triton Storm Drain Insert. It has a heavy duty cylindrical filter which is hollow and allows for sampling with ease. Below is a picture of a witch hat along side a Triton Storm Drain Insert.

witch-hat drain-insert_33

Following these simple tips and tricks can help any business and/or private residence prevent our local water from being contaminated.

For additional information how first flush and overflow prevention, please go to

Post Fire Clean Up – Porta-Pad

Flames and smoke from a wildlife fill the sky bedhind a Southern California Subdivision. A recent southern california brush fire burning extremely close to homes.

Wildfires have been a ruthless foe over recent years in California. They can level buildings and homes and leave entire towns in ruins.

One of the hardest parts about a wildfire is dealing with the clean-up afterwards. Fire debris can easily contaminate the environment not because of burnt trees, shrubs and grass but because of the destruction of man made items. Cars, when destroyed by fire, can leave behind heavy metals, oils, greases, sharp objects, glass, paint, rubber, etc. that have to be contained, cleaned up and removed before they can harm wildlife or be absorbed into the ground and pollute nearby streams and creeks.

The debris from houses and buildings can be especially devastating to the environment because building materials used to make it and items inside a residence or business can bring endless possibilities for potential contaminants.

The very equipment used to clean the fire could be harmful if not decontaminated properly. Firetrucks, axes, fire hoses and other equipment can pick up harmful debris and transfer them from one site to another because the crew is following wherever the fire goes.

D cropped for Porta-Pad manual

One way to help in the clean-up of post fire torn areas is containing hazardous material and disposing of it properly. The Porta-Pad can do just that by providing a safe, durable, cost effective pad for cleaning vehicles and equipment and dumping/sifting through debris. Ask US Hydrotech for more information about how the Porta-Pad can help with post fire clean-up.

Water Inspector “Red Flags” – How to Avoid Them

Water quality inspectors have the job of visiting local businesses and evaluating how they use water and to help those businesses use water more efficiently. Unfortunately, sometimes there is an obvious disregard displayed for any sort of water conservation and that business could receive a harsh penalty if not properly addressed.

The best thing a company can do is consistent review of their best management practices (BMP’s) to identify new areas of improvement in an ever changing environment.

The following are some tips and tricks to help prepare for the inevitable visit from your local water quality inspector.

Don’t have employees wash without some sort of containment:


Never let wash water run to the storm drain:


Cheap felt storm drain inserts, sometimes called “witch hats” from their appearance placed upside down in a storm drain can fill up quickly and then have to be cut in order to remove, thus spilling all the contaminated particles directly into the storm drain:


Agricultural nutrients can be very harmful if not contained in proper spill-proof pallets:


Even if there is a working wash bay, water can still escape to flow freely to the lowest spot as shown here:


These are just a few of the tell tail signs that water is being contaminated. Knowing these “red flags” will help better prepare for an unannounced visit from a water quality control inspector.