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Assessment of environmental impacts of vehicle wash centres at Olakha, Thimphu Bhutan

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Science, Kathmandu University, GPO BOX: 6250, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 2Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Science, Kathmandu University, GPO BOX: 6250, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 3College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa, Bhutan
  • 4Department of International Environment and Development Studies, NMBU - Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
  • 5Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Science, Kathmandu University, GPO BOX: 6250, Kathmandu, Nepal

Int. Res. J. Environment Sci., Volume 7, Issue (1), Pages 1-10, January,22 (2018)


Vehicle washing consumes lot of freshwater and generates potentially toxic wastewater. This study comprising of a survey and physico-chemical analysis were carried out in commercial vehicle wash centres located at Olakha, Thimphu. Survey questionnaire focused on current washing practices and management of wastewater. Physico-chemical compositions of vehicle wash wastewater and potential ramifications of this wastewater on receiving stream Olarong Chhu were investigated. Vehicle wash wastewater from influent and effluent of Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and water samples of Olarong Chhu were collected on monthly basis and analysed for pH, temperature (T), electrical conductivity (EC), turbidity, total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), dissolved oxygen (DO), biological oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), oil and grease, total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorous (TP), alkalinity, and Heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn). Findings showed that vehicle wash centres are operated with poor environmental ethics despite of restrictive laws and regulations. In effluent pH(8.45), TSS(364.29mg/l), TDS(204.45)mg/l), oil and grease(154.57mg/l), Cu(0.11mg/l), Fe(15.06mg/l) and Mn(0.73 mg/l) were not within the permissible limits of Environmental Standards[ES] (2010) of Bhutan. Physico-chemical analysis of Olarong Chhu depicts degradation in water quality especially at wastewater discharging zone. However analytical results and statistical testing revealed that existing ETP is efficient in reducing the contaminants levels of TSS, BOD5, COD, oil and grease, Fe and Mn. These findings are excellent baseline database for the policy makers as provisions pertaining to management of wastewater are not implemented properly in Bhutan. Other recommendations include compliance with guidelines for establishment of vehicle wash centres, establishment of ETPs, physico-chemical analyses of wastewater prior to discharge and environmental safety education for the wash centres’ operators.


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