Best Management Practices for Auto Repair Facilities

Incidents of automobile fluids entering the sewer collection system can be both dangerous and costly to investigate and clean up. Costs associated with these incidents can be charged to a facility that is determined to be the source of the nuisance discharge. Fluids that are considered harmful or hazardous can cause various problems when introduced to the sanitary sewer system:

  • Motor oils entering the sanitary sewer system have the potential to restrict the flow of sewage causing it to spill onto the surface, called a sanitary sewer overflow.
  • Flammable or ignitable substances can cause fires or massive explosions in the infrastructure or at the treatment plant. Many substances can cause corrosion and damage to pipes, pumps and lift stations.
  • Toxic substances can kill or inhibit the microorganisms that wastewater treatment plants rely upon.
  • Many substances can produce detrimental conditions and foul odors.

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Best Management Practices (BMP) are designed to help facilities comply with environmental regulations and prevent pollution at the source. This best management practice contains a set of operating procedures and guidelines designed to reduce the amount of pollutants discharged to the JEA Water Reclamation Facilities (WRF). The development of this BMP is intended to protect the WRF and environment by providing established, common sense, and economical guidelines for automotive repair facilities.

JEA Water Reclamation Facilities receive and treat wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial customers prior to discharge to the St. Johns River. Automotive repair facilities have the potential to discharge substances that may interfere with the operations of the WRF to cause it to discharge pollutants to the St. Johns River. Because of this potential, JEA may require these facilities to obtain an Industrial User Discharge Permit. By implementing these Best Management Practices, automobile repair facilities may be exempt from obtaining such a permit.

Like other businesses that use hazardous materials in their work, auto repair facilities are subject to federal, state, and local regulations including the Clean Water Act which regulates wastewater and storm runoff. As part of the Clean Water Act, the National Pretreatment Regulation (40CFR 403) was established to protect WRFs and the waterways to which they discharge. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegates this responsibility to the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). In Jacksonville, FL, the state has delegated local authority to JEA (an electric, water, and sewer utility). It is the responsibility of the JEA Industrial Pretreatment (IP) program to regulate discharges to the WRF and control contaminants that enter the sanitary sewer system.


Automobile repair shops produce many types of waste, some hazardous, some not necessarily hazardous but still potentially damaging to the environment if not handled properly. These wastes may be created when replacing automotive fluids, maintaining parts, and repairing equipment. All wastes require proper treatment and or disposal which could lead to significant cost to the business.

An economical method of controlling pollution and the production of wastes is to reduce or prevent them from being created. Pollution Prevention (P2) is the use of materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants or wastes at the source. P2 uses recycling, good operating practices, material substitutions, and process changes to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste, non-hazardous materials, and pollution. Numerous P2 methods that are practical to implement will be included in this BMP.

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