Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whatcom Window Washers for clean water

These are some of the window washing tools used by Kris Shammel, the owner of a window washing business in Bellingham, Washington. The orange bucket is filled with biodegradable soap, and this is enough soap to last for a whole day of washing windows. The clean, folded towels are mechanic's towels, and the item Kris is wringing out is a highly absorbent microstrip washer.

As part of my ongoing project called "Stormwater University," I called a number of window washing businesses in Whatcom and Skagit counties, to talk with them about what best management practices they used to keep soapy water out of storm drains. The day I called Kris, he was 20 feet up on a ladder, working, but he enthusiastically told me how he works, and how no water from his window washing operations EVER reaches stormdrains. Then, he invited me to come watch!

I could tell I was in for a very tidy operation as soon as I got there. Everything about Kris was spotless and orderly. Before he even stepped onto the customer's porch, he wiped his shoes off with a towel. Then, he dipped the microstrip washer into the soap, stripped all the water off it, and washed the window. First he washed it with the microstrip washer, and then with a special sponge. I didn't see one drop of water splash anywhere, except into the orange bucket.

Next came the window squeegee, a special tool with a soft rubber strip. He lightly whizzed the squeegee over the lightly soaped window, whipped out one of the towels, and caught a small drip with the towel. No drips, fuss, or muss.

At the end of the day, he takes the one bucket of used soap home, puts it his home utility sink, where it gets treated with his other wastewater. He washes the towels in his washing machine. No stormwater pollution, and no waste. Thanks, Kris, we appreciate the steps you take to keep our water clean.

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