News: New wash rack system conserves water, money
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Getten
CARSON CITY, Nev. - Expelling 20 gallons of water per minute at about 750 pounds per square inch, not even the stickiest of Nevada mud has a chance against the water cannons at the new Net Zero Heavy Solids Wash Racks at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop here and at the Las Vegas Readiness Center.
Using state-of-the-art technology, the Net Zero Heavy Solids Wash Racks use nearly 100 percent recycled water. Nearly every ounce of the water is reused in the closed loop system. The only expended water in the system comes via evaporation and the liquid “carried off” on the vehicle.
The Nevada Guard is the first military organization in the nation to transition to the Net Zero system.
The amount of water saved with the new equipment is staggering.
“The system in Las Vegas consumes about five gallons of water per vehicle,” said Michael Solomon, the president of Bay Compliance Solutions, the company that designed and supplied all the equipment and technical support for the construction of the new wash racks. “Compared to a conventional Army wash rack, which can consume up to an estimated 2,000 gallons per vehicle, it’s quite a savings in water alone.”
Contrary to most vehicle-washing facilities, the Nevada Guard wash racks do not have a drain or discharge line to a sanitary drain waste system.
“By eliminating the need to empty the water into the local drainage system, the Nevada Guard is saving money,” said Jeff Resler, the project manager with the Construction and Facilities Management Office. “We were literally washing money down the drain.”
A prominent feature of the wash rack is the drive-down pit, a run-off collection pit used to settle solids and separate any free-floating oil or grease.
The drive-down pit collects the run-off and the majority of solids then separate via gravity and sink to the bottom of the drive-down tank. A Bobcat front-end loader then scoops up the solids and places it in a de-watering hopper located on the wash rack.
Once in the hopper, water and sediment settle through a screen. The unsalvageable solids are then properly disposed.
The recycled water then flows through a pre-treatment process where free-floating oils are separated. The water then receives a bioremediation process, where the addition of microbes removes hydrocarbons from the wash water.
From the drive-down pit, the water is pumped into the equipment room where additional treatment occurs. In this treatment step, an electro-coagulation water treatment capable of processing 300 gallons per hour removes suspended solids, emulsified oil, grease, paint and heavy metals from the liquid.
The final step in the recycling process occurs when the water flows through the SunSpring microbiological water purifier. The water is purified to remove any pathogens, particulates and turbidity before fresh water is added to the system to compensate for the loss due to evaporation and carry-off.
The treated water then flows into a 1,600 gallon reservoir tank where it held until it is discharged through the water cannons and recycled again.
Motor pool personnel remind all soldiers to avoid disposing of their trash in the wash rack hoppers. Also, contact motor pool personnel before using the new equipment to ensure safety.
“As equipment comes in for maintenance, operators will be trained and given a safety briefing before we cut them loose with those water cannons,” said CSMS General Foreman Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christopher Wolfe.
Motor pool soldiers are ecstatic with the new, effective equipment.
“This is an amazing tool and the Net Zero System is awesome. Here in the desert we don’t need to be wasting water,” Wolfe said. “The only thing I would add is a walk-in pit to clean the undercarriage, but otherwise I think it is an amazing tool. The wash time is cut to just minutes.”