There’s another way?

Dave Mearsin Drainage & Irrigation

Everyone with a washpad for turf machinery and the like knows, or should know by now, that legal compliance is necessary. Why is it then that there are still many golf courses, educational establishments, sports facilities, stately homes and other heritage properties that continue to flout these regulations? ClearWater's Dave Mears offers a possible cost saving solution.

There can be no ambiguity as the regulations clearly state that you are breaking the law by washing hydrocarbons (oils, grease, petrol, diesel, etc.) into the ground. All are classed as hazardous substances and it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit discharge of such pollutants into the groundwater.

In England and Wales the law is The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 enforced by the EA (Environment Agency) whilst, in Scotland, it is The Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 where SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) is responsible for compliance.

Talking to a number within the turf maintenance sector, from director level to end user, it seems that, generally, there is an awareness of legal requirements and that washpad compliance is necessary, with many wishing to upgrade their facilities. However, cost is often the stumbling block and investment in a compliant wash facility is not viewed as a profitable venture. A valid viewpoint, but do consider that installing a water recycling wash system does have benefits. Apart from a more effective and efficient wash-off, water savings are huge. Tests have shown that an average eighteen hole golf course washing their range of typical machinery, could reasonably expect to save over half a million litres of water per annum of a valuable and increasingly costly commodity. If you use mains water, do check the cost and what savings could be shown by recycling.

Another advantage, and helping reduce costs further, is that, if a Water Technology List (WTL) approved system is installed, businesses can write off 100% of their total investment against taxable profits in the year of purchase under the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme. If, for example, a ClearWater system was installed, this could amount to over £3,000. Costs are not then as great as maybe thought. So, is it worth playing Russian roulette and running the risk of a compliance visit from the EA or SEPA, with possible prosecution and fines or civil sanctions?

Recent project at Waterton Park golf club

Should this happen (and articles are on record regarding EA visits concerning washpad pollution), the cost to an offending business would be far greater than the cost of a recycling system. The attendant publicity would be a major embarrassment and potentially damage a club's reputation. It does seem that the EA are increasing their activities as reports are coming in to say that letters have been received from them about washpad compliance.

You may now be thinking that washpad compliance should be a higher priority on your list and could be possible sooner rather than later if a cost effective solution and a good reason to act now was available.

There is an answer. Generally, washpad water recycling systems need to be installed by the supplier or their contractor and, naturally, this adds to costs. However, if you or your local contractor could carry out relatively simple civil work, there would be considerable savings. This is where our system comes in and could answer your needs.

WTL approved, developed and manufactured in the UK, ClearWater was launched in 2003 and is now an established brand. Unlike most washpad solutions, it features unique selling points: it is safely below ground, silent in operation, operates at a low temperature (allaying fears of formation of harmful bacteria such as Legionella), is economical to operate and maintain and inexpensive to purchase. However, the main feature that makes ours the system of choice for so many is that, unlike others, it can be self-installed; and easily!

Whilst turnkey installations are always available, self-installation is now the choice of around 65% of our customers, particularly as this route shows costs savings. The work involved is the "civils" side only; digging a trench to take the tank and laying a washpad to the required size. Detailed installation instructions are comprehensive, containing drawings and photographs alongside step by step text, helping to make the work easy. As self-installation is fast becoming the popular choice, a step by step installation video is in preparation as an extra aid. Commissioning of the system, which includes fitting out, is always carried out by one of our trained engineer and included in the purchase price.

Excavate the trench and check the depth before lowering the tank into position

The following report of a recent self-install is a good example and demonstrates how straightforward it is to buy and install a system:

Waterton Park Golf Club takes its environmental responsibilities seriously; sustainability is their watchword. Although irrigation is by bore-hole supplied water, further water savings were sought and one area of concern was the greenkeeping wash-off facility where large quantities of water were being wasted. The solution was to recycle wash-water and so, washpad recycling systems were investigated.

Improving their environmental credentials, whilst staying on the right side of the law, were also driving factors. The club wanted to prevent pollution and be compliant. Having looked at what was available, they chose our system. Asked why, a number of reasons were proffered: "it's below ground and away from vandals; it was available to self-install; below ground means low temperature and less chance of Legionella." Pressed on why self-install was a main reason for their purchase, their answer was unanimous: "cost savings!"

As Head Greenkeeper David Griffin said; "the installation instructions provided were very good, with plenty of photos to help us. We did have a couple of questions and calls to their office were made. We were put in touch straight away with friendly, knowledgeable people who had the answers."

The self-install option suited Waterton Park and allowed them to carry out the work at varying times to suit them, whilst balancing this with the demands of maintaining the course. The installation was as they wanted it; located in a position that they felt was most suitable, with a washpad laid to the size they needed. What does come over is their pride in the work they carried out and certainly this is justified as they have made a first class job of the installation. They will ensure the system is well looked after!

The new site commissioned by an engineer and all ready for use

With all the work completed, the area tidied and commissioning carried out by our engineer, the next question was does it live up to your expectations? Comments noted were; "happy to be fully compliant"; "it is easy to use and maintain"; "there is plenty of pressure from the water guns"; "it looks great!"

"We have resolved all the problems associated with machinery washing," commented David, "and we've got rid of the smell we had before! I can't fault it."

Yes, the team would be happy to recommend and demonstrate the ClearWater system as it meets all their requirements. What was a decrepit non-compliant washpad, wasting thousands of litres of precious water is now a fully compliant, effective and efficient system, preventing pollution.

Certainly, with Waterton Park's enthusiasm for this project, others considering a washpad water recycling system and installing themselves (or with the help of a contractor), may well wish to look at a similar solution.

Waterton Park made a conscious decision to be legally compliant, taking their environmental responsibilities seriously and to continue building on their conservation programme. The new ClearWater washpad water recycling system certainly ticks all the boxes, and it looks good!

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Drainage & irrigation