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How to Legally Dispose of Gray Water For a Food Truck

Whether your operating a food truck or trailer, you need to consider how to properly dispose of “gray water” for your business. How you remove gray water is critical from a legal perspective and you’ll face stiff fines or have your vending license revoked if you fail to meet this requirement.

On top of the legal ramifications, disposing of this waste water correctly is the right thing to do. It ensures that your waste won’t make anyone sick or backup sewer systems of your local municipality.

In case your unfamiliar with the term “gray water” already, it’s the waste water you produce from a day of operating your mobile kitchen. This waste often contains grease, soap, chlorine, food particles, or bacteria.

Checking For Approved Waste Water Systems

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we understand the importance of getting an approved waste water system installed that meets the requirements of local government agencies. This is an important step that can be overlooked by builders and first-time vendors. If missed, the result will mean more time and money to fix on your end.

Take for example, if you planned to operate a “mobile food facility” (AKA food truck) in San Diego County. In this county, you would be required to have a total capacity of carrying 45 gallons of waste water in two separate tanks. The first requires a small 7.5 gallon tank for hand washing. The second requires a larger 37.5 gallons for ware washing and other waste. To find out what rules are in your area consult your local health department before moving forward with any build.

After you’ve got the appropriate sized waste tanks installed, you’ll also need to make sure there is a way to drain the tank externally that can be connected to a hose to offer more flexibility. Some mobile units even have a grease trap installed.

One pro tip that you’ll want to build into your process is to inspect if there is any leakage from your waste water tank. If there is leakage and it’s discovered by an inspector first, your business will be shut down until you fix the problem.

One simple way to ensue the tank is not leaking or cracked is to check underneath your vehicle after each day of operation. You’ll see the waste water on the ground, especially when parked on pavement.

Approved Gray Water Facilities

Now that you’ve figured out what you need in terms of onboard equipment, you’ll want to find out where exactly you can dispose of your waste water at the end of the day. One easy recommendation is to ask your local health department for a list of approved resources in your area. Here are a few of the most common ways you can dispose of waste water:

Commissaries: This is the most common location for food trucks to dispose of their waste water at the end of the shift. Most commissaries will have a location setup where you can hook an external hose to release water into a grease interceptor.

Restaurants: If you already own a restaurant then this is your best option. If not, you’ll have to have to find another business owner that you can exchange value for and potentially pay a small fee. One tip would be to reach out to smaller restaurant owners that would be happy to do this for a small fee.

Camping Areas: You’ll need to consult with your health department if this is an option in your area, but it is fine in some areas. Believe it or not, but RVs have similar waste from bathrooms and cooking that food trucks do. The hookup and disposal is similar as well.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mobile vending the rules are a little bit different no matter where you go. Consulting with your local officials is the safest way to ensure that you’re following the letter of the law.

Don’t Try This At Home

Finally, do not try to dump your gray water at home (or anywhere else it’s not approved). Eventually, the build up from your gray water will plug the sewer systems and it will get back to you. Water companies now have ways to send cameras down plumbing lines to identify where the source of a problem is coming from. If the problem is you, it’ll be you that is on the hook to pay for the problem to be solved.

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