In about six months from now, automobile workshops in the country will be mandated to establish Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) to treat contaminated water before it is released into the surrounding environment.
The rule will apply to all automobile workshops around the country irrespective of their sizes.
The rule will be implemented in the two urban towns of Thimphu and Phuentsholing which have the maximum number of automobile workshops.
The ETP absorbs soap and contaminated water from vehicles washed in modern commercial facilities and treats it before it is released into the surrounding environment.
In order to ensure that every automobile workshop has an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) the National Environment Commission has come up with a guideline for vehicle wash facility in Bhutan.
The Secretary of the NEC, Ugyen Tshewang, said the contamination of water bodies by untreated car wash effluents is a prominent and serious environmental hazard.
He said the NEC has notified all the Dzongkhags and Thromdes to implement the guideline.
He said existing automobile workshops and those that will come up should establish an ETP.
“We will coordinate with the relevant stakeholders and ensure these facilities are established and implemented,” said Ugyen Tshewang.
Today there are 20 semi-automated vehicle wash facilities in the Olarongchu automobile workshop in Thimphu.
According to NEC, most of the workshops do not have an effective effluent treatment plant.
“It is important to establish efficient ETP at Olarongchu automobile workshop in order to treat the waste water immediately and prevent the effluent discharge into the Olarongchu stream,” said Ugyen Tshewang.
He added that Thimphu Thromde has been asked to identify locations for the establishment of washing facilities for heavy vehicles like trucks and buses. The NEC will coordinate in establishing the facility.
Ugyen Tshewang said curently almost all heavy vehicles are washed in streams and rivers.
“Thromdes will have to identify areas and processes for the allocation of land for heavy vehicle and machineries wash facilities,” he said.
There are many impacts of washing cars in the rivers, streams or lakes. Detergent concentration of only 2 parts per million (PPM) strip away fishes’ protective coating, resulting in their absorbing double the amount of chemicals they would normally.
Detergent concentration as low as 5 ppm will kill fish eggs and significant fish kills occurs when detergent concentration is near 15 ppm.
According to the Water Prevention and Waste Management Act 2009, washing of vehicles in streams and rivers is prohibitedbut despite the large number of car wash facilities in Thimphu, many vehicles are washed in streams and rivers, a practice prevalent across the country.
Ugyen Tshewang said the guideline for vehicle wash facility in Bhutan will provide information on types of light and heavy vehicle washing facilities that can be established depending on locations and feasibilities with various options.
The implementation arrangement under the guideline says, to facilitate and expedite establishment of vehicle wash facilities, the government may consider provision of tax exemption for import of equipment which is environmental friendly technology.
The NEC has also recommended provisions of subsidy for establishment of ETP and a soft loan program for washing facilities. The Bhutan Trust Fund will support the establishment of the facilities.
This Article was published in Business Bhutan http://www.businessbhutan.bt/?p=10651