Nov 18, 2020

Three-pronged Approach to Protecting Water Resources

Combining street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment and sewer cleaning tanker trucks to keep freshwater supplies safe.


Street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment and sewer cleaning tanker trucks are all good solutions to keeping limited freshwater supplies safe.

When thinking about conserving and keeping our limited freshwater supplies safe, three types of solutions spring to mind. Street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment and sewer cleaning tanker trucks are all good solutions.

Why not use all three to turn good into extraordinary? 

Street Sweepers  

Street sweepers fall into two major categories, compact sweepers and truck-mounted sweepers. Both are the best at keeping the streets clean and preventing freshwater supply pollution. 

Compact Street Sweepers 

The compact sweepers's primary advantage is maximum maneuverability that ensures perfect directional stability and safety for everyday work while also safe for city dwellers. Compacts's agility shines through in municipal streets, bike lanes and even sidewalks. Advantages are narrow design, more economical to operate, diesel fuel options (and electric) and quieter operation. The reduced noise emissions make compacts ideal for mixed-use business and residential areas and much appreciated by neighbors. More and more electric street sweepers are coming onto the market, providing environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuel units.

Truck-mounted street sweepers 

Heavy-duty truck-mounted sweepers made for broad surfaces consist of three different sweeping technologies.

Mechanical street sweepers 

Designed in the Industrial Revolution, mechanical street sweepers predate the automobile. Today, municipalities will often hire contractors to take care of heavy road construction material, such as broken pavement, chunks of asphalt, concrete millings, mud and various construction debris. Mechanical sweepers use a series of brushes to sweep debris into a hopper. The sweepers then dump the waste into a dumpster or dump truck bed.

Regenerative air street sweepers 

Regenerative air provides cost-effective, efficient road sweeping. Regenerative air circulation allows for large forward-facing digger gutter brooms and a full-width suction to maximize sweeping speed. Combined with ergonomic operator controls and low running costs, regenerative air sweepers provide an ideal solution to airports, long low cambered roads and urban environments.

Vacuum street sweepers 

Vacuum sweepers are suited for catch basin cleaning, general street sweeping and porous pavement. The suction mechanism will suck the debris into the hopper container for disposal.

Truck-mounted sweepers come in a wide range of dependably configured options from single-engine hydrostatic truck-mounted sweepers to twin-engine sweepers.

Like the compact sweepers, truck-mounted sweeper manufacturers are also introducing electric powered zero-emission machines.

Street sweepers' role in our ecosystem is much more than to keep things clean. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the PM-10 standard. PM-10 regulates the number of particles in the air 10 microns (.0004 inches) or smaller. Why that small? Because the particles are small enough to reach our lungs's lower regions. So the PM-10 street sweeper removal standards protect not only our streets but also our lungs. 

Sweepers pick up chemicals, construction debris, dirt, motor oil, trash, and other contaminants, but they do so much more. When street sweepers remove potentially harmful substances from construction sites, parking lots, roadways, and other paved surfaces before they go down storm drains, they are less likely to end up in our lakes, rivers and other freshwater sources.


Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Practices Assessment Phase III – Reclaimed Water Areas - University of Florida Study

The MS4 study found street sweepers far more effective and cost-effective than all other best management practices (BMPs) against water pollutions. BMPs are structural, vegetative or managerial practices used to treat, prevent or reduce water pollution BMPs for stormwater runoff pollutant removal. 

The study looked at the cost per pound for separation and recovery in regards to Total Nitrogen (TN), Total Phosphorus (TP), and Particulate Matter (PM).

Cleaning via street sweeping came in at the lowest cost. The cost per pound for TN? $189. TP? $294. PM? $0.11, the most economical choice. 

The next least expensive alternative? Catch basin cleaning, which vacuum compact and truck-mounted street sweepers can accomplish via a power boom hose. Catch basin cleaning comes in at $1,016 cost per pound for TN. $1,656 for TP, and $0.70 for PM. In comparison, BMP Treatment Trains come in at $1,068 per pound for TN, a whopping $37,243 for TP, and $29.70 for PM.



Winter Maintenance Equipment  

Northern areas in the U.S. and Canada depend on snow removal and treatment via snow plows and spreaders. Municipalities, contractors and airports rely on customer-orientated solutions for efficient and environment-friendly winter maintenance. 

In some lighter snow/high temperate areas, street sweepers are used even in the winter to clean the salt or brine off streets depending on the snow removal technology deployed. Not all areas of the country need a snowplow or spreader. 

Sewer Cleaning Tanker Trucks  

So what happens if the threat to freshwater is an unseen enemy?

Unseen is usually the case with clogged sewer lines or catch basins. Unfortunately, sewer problems are not un-smelled. Likewise, when residents call their municipalities for help, usually a stinky situation or backup into their homes is an emergency.

Combination Units and Remote Reels 

One use of flexible sewer cleaning units is as a first responder type of tool. These vehicles are especially useful to get in tight and densely populated metro areas as they have a smaller footprint than a recycling or supersucker truck. Combo units are powerful preventive cleaning, emergency cleaning of mains, septic and collection tanks and transport of dangerous goods. 

The advantage is the low maintenance costs, increased capabilities, low noise levels and high quality. If you need even a smaller approach, a remote or easement reel is perfect for jetting in parking decks, inside buildings and to navigate stairs with its mini-tank like treads.  

Sewer Cleaning Recycling Tanker Trucks 

Recycler sewer cleaning trucks equipped with fully automatic water filtration systems clean the toughest blockages, even the dreaded fatbergs. The advantage of sewer cleaner tankers is that they automatically and continuously separate water from the sludge to use the cleaned water to clean the sewer. This technology is not just right for the environment for the water recycling aspect, but the longer job-site time means less fuel used. Additionally, compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled trucks provide a cleaner working experience. It is also healthy for the bottom line and the sewer cleaner operator.

The benefits of using street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment and sewer cleaning tanker trucks in unison is a smart offense in protecting and conserving freshwater.

I ask again, could this three-pronged approach help your DOT, municipality, or contracting business save your freshwater supplies? Some food for thought.


About the author

Matt Starnes is the product marketing manager for Bucher Municipal North America and the Sweepers & Tankers Podcast host. Starnes can be reached at [email protected].