Search of recycled water factories supplying to car washes, underway

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       Car washes are often advised to reuse water. It is because car washes pollute the environment and cause a shortage of clean water. Depending on their capacity, car washes use more than 60 tons of fresh water per month. There is also a study that shows that car washes use 125,000 cubic meters of clean water per year. One car is washed with at least 200 liters of water. The Water Authority has issued an order that says all car washes should reuse water from January 1, 2024. We asked further whether it would be feasible to implement. The Water department stated, “Car washes using clean water is rare in the world. Most use only recycled greywater. However, there is no place in Ulaanbaatar that uses gray water.” Head of Operation Control Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Authority D.Munkhzul said, “We have an agreement with 146 car washes to supply clean water and remove waste water. There has been no official order for us to stop supplying clean water to car washes by the authorities. In general, I agree that it is better not to supply clean water to car washes.” Of the 146 car washes contracted with the organization, 34 have installed water reusing equipment.

RECYCLED WATER GIVEN FREE

In 2010, MCS Coca Cola put a wastewater treatment plant into operation. In this way, recycled water is used for watering gardens and extinguishing fires. In addition, car washes, concrete mixing plants and waste recycling plants are taking water from them and using them. Last year, the facility recycled 240,000 tons of water and supplied it to the main line of the Central Treatment Plant. Public Relations and Internal Relations Officer of MCS, G.Tuvshinbileg said, “Despite car washes wanting to get recycled water, they are also located far away. However, some car washes come and get recycled water. In general, the water they need is
free. But we don’t transport the water ourselves.150,000-200,000 tons of water is recycled annually, but only five to six percent is used, and the rest is supplied to the Central Treatment Plant.”

CANNOT WASH CARS WITH ONLY GRAY WATER

We previously reported on some car washes using gray water. Car washes store their portable water in their purifiers and reuse it after purification. In some small car washes, it is expensive to get a moving vehicle and cleaning equipment. In 2019, the “Auto Spa” car wash located in the Khan-Uul District introduced the technology of using gray water in cooperation with the Soyol Wellness center. Next to the center, four to five workers were washing about 20 cars. They had put “Grey water is our solution” slogan on the wall in large letters with pictures of the devices placed next to it. Depending on the type of the car, the price of the service ranged from 40,000-60,000MNT for a full wash and 25,000-35,000 MNT for an inside and outside wash. D.Tugsmandakh, who runs the place, said, “It’s been five years since we gave up our need for clean water. We use 100 percent domestic greywater. Water resources are sufficient. The sauna next to us has six pools. Water is taken from there through pipelines. The water is stored first and used after filtering the hair and dirt. When we saw the filtered water, it was a clear gray color. They wash 40-50 cars a day in winter and more than 100 in summer. One car uses more than 100 liters of water.

“NT” car wash located in Bayanzurkh District is the first company to introduce equipment for washing cars with portable water, purifying used ones, and reusing them. Also, “Eco” Carwash in Khan-Uul District has such an equipment. Director of NT Car Wash, T.Zolzaya said, “About four years ago, officials put a requirement that ordered us to have gray water equipment and said we won’t be able to operate if we don’t have it. At that time, we bought the equipment from China for 20 million MNT. It is impossible to wash the car with only gray water. By reusing
the used water, there can be problems such as an unpleasant smell coming from a car, and the
color of the tires turning white. Therefore, some citizens complain. Therefore, it is suitable to reuse the used water for only two or three days. We are not connected to a clean water supply line. Previously, we transported water from the MCS Coca Cola factory for more than a year. However, the car broke down and we stopped transporting water. I wish the decision-makers would support car washes to transport water.” The car wash has a water storage tank with a height of two meters and a width of about one meter. The water is distilled in one day. After using the distilled water, it is purified and used again. When it becomes unusable, it is transported by sewage truck and dumped in the designated area. They mentioned that 100,000MNT will be spent for transporting waste, and 200,000MNT if it is too polluted. T.Zolzaya said, “Even if we are connected to the central sewage system, we cannot supply the used water to the line. Therefore, we have the waste transported by sewage trucks one or two times a month and dumped at the designated place. We will be fined if the waste exceeds the wastewater standard. Samples are taken once a quarter and checked. In the beginning, the level of pollution was high. Now it is normal.”

“Sembii” car wash said, “The officials did not say anything about how to create an environment for greywater use and what solutions are available. We get water from the central treatment line. It is not clear what technology will be introduced in the place where the service is provided. It’s hard to say that the water in the central line is chloramine-free, unfiltered, and 100 percent pure. However, I heard that Oyu Tolgoi uses eight tons of clean underground water per second. I don’t know if they pay the appropriate fee for it.”

Munkh Khada is one of the two companies that imported automatic car wash salons from Japan. The salon has water suction equipment under the floor. The water is stored in two tanks of one ton each and purified. When asked about the features of this device, an employee of the
company said, “The automatic car wash salon broke after three years of operation. But there is no specialist who can fix it. In fact, it is an equipment that cleans and reuses 100 percent of the water from the car wash. We are currently washing cars with clean water.”

Z.BATBAYAR: WE WILL REUSE WASTE WATER FROM FOOD FACTORIES AND CONSTRUCTION SITES

We spoke with the Head of the Water Authority, Z.Batbayar.

You previously reported that the authorities have proposed not to supply clean water to car washes from next year and not to sign a long-term contract. How to implement it successfully?

Car wash water contains harmful chemicals such as polish and detergent, so it has a negative effect on the environment. The central treatment plant can recycle domestic wastewater. But water with chemicals cannot be cleaned. Therefore, car washes can save fresh water if they adopt a water reusing system. For this reason, it was proposed not to supply clean water to car washes.

Where will they get gray water from? We have very little experience using gray water.

Citizens and enterprises using clean water sign contracts with the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority and heat and water supply offices. We propose not to sign such a contract in the future. Soon we will determine the quantity of purified water of MCS Coca Cola. If the volume reaches 125,000 cubic meters, car washes can get water from them. The factory is in Amgalan. Therefore, some places say “How will we transport water from there? It will cost a lot.” Therefore, we planned to study how many food factories are near car washes that can supply water. MCS Coca Cola does not know what to do with the purified water from its factory. It is often used for watering trees and landscaping. Similarly, other food industries can treat their wastewater and supply it to car washes. It’s also beneficial for the supplying organization. It is because you pay for the removal of wastewater. But by supplying for it to car washes, you can save money. It is also possible to collect the water leached from the excavation of the foundation of the building. Companies that have water under foundations of their buildings must pay. When we calculated, two million cubic meters of water had leached from the foundations of the constructions being built by 10 companies in just one month. They can give it to car washes for free because they struggle to drain it. Another way is for car washes to collect and use rainwater. According to the information we have, about 40 percent of car washes in Ulaanbaatar use portable water. So, the simplest solution is for car washes to filter their own water.

A variety of filters are available for prices ranging from 5,000-5 million USD. If you have such equipment, it will be possible to circulate the water. You can save on water bills. In the future, many artificial ponds are planned to be built in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar. There are three or four ponds that have been built before. You can also get water from here. There are 17,000 wells in the capital city. Therefore, there is no need to drill additional wells. In the future, there will be a requirement to use gray water in leather, leather, wool, and cashmere industries as well.

Don’t we have a car wash that uses gray water?

There are places that claim to reuse water. Unfortunately, there are no places that claim to reuse their water 100 percent. There may be places that use both clean and recycled water. In
Mongolia, it is classified as wastewater and gray water. In specific, there are two categories of water that seeps from building foundations and water from food processing plants. Also, treated domestic water is called gray water internationally.

You said you will take economic incentives to ensure adequate water consumption in car washes in the first phase. Is that right?

We proposed to increase the price of water up to 20-30MNT per liter to the committee for coordinating the use of water supply and sewerage services in cities and outskirts. They reduced the price of water for ger district, increased the price of residential water, and made it the same price. The cheapest car wash is 20,000 MNT per car. However, the water bill for one car is only 400 MNT or 600 MNT. This means that the water bill is not even one percent of the total price of the service. So, I don’t think that increasing the fee will be a burden on car washes.

Amarjargal Munkhbat

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