Exploring the Potential in LID Technologies for Remediating Heavy Metals in Carwash Wastewater




Talebzadeh, Fatemeh
Valeo, Caterina
Gupta, Rishi
Constabel, C. Peter

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Carwash wastewater (CWW) can be a significant source of environmental pollution due to the diversity and high concentrations of contaminants it contains. This toxic wastewater can contain several different heavy metals that if left untreated, can enter surface and sub-surface waters. Innovative, nature-based solutions such as low-impact development (LID) technologies may provide an eco-friendly CWW treatment process that is both effective and affordable. This research reviews the available literature to provide definitive values of flowrate and contaminant concentrations found in CWW around the globe. Dividing LID technologies into two groups, vegetated and unvegetated systems, the authors explored the literature for the general performance of these technologies to sustainably treat heavy metals in CWW. Depending on the car wash’s size and intended purpose, whether cleaning vehicles in agriculture-based rural communities, mining, or in high-density urban environments, volumetric flowrates requiring treatment found in six different countries ranged from 35–400 L/car. CWW also contains a wide range of contaminants at various levels, including COD, turbidity, TDS and TSS, surfactants, oils and greases, and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, zinc, copper, chromium, and iron. Heavy metal removal by both vegetated and unvegetated LIDs shows mixed results in the literature, but given the different processes involved in both types, the authors propose a system that combines these types in order to provide all the necessary removal processes, including mechanical filtration, adsorption, sedimentation, chemical and biological treatment processes.



carwash wastewater, heavy metals, low-impact development, water quality remediation, sedimentation, chemical adsorption, infiltration, bioretention, phytoremediation, rural and remote water management


Talebzadeh, F., Valeo, C., Gupta, R., & Constabel, C. P. (2021). Exploring the Potential in LID Technologies for Remediating Heavy Metals in Carwash Wastewater. Sustainability, 13(16), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168727.