Certification and Permit Requirements for Perchloroethylene Dry Cleaners

The Wastewater Ordinance of the Sanitation Districts prohibits the discharge of wastewater containing excessive amounts of toxic organics to the Sanitation Districts' sewerage system. It has been determined that separator wastewater from dry cleaners contains excessive amounts of perchloroethylene that may negatively impact Sanitation Districts' facilities. Therefore, all dry cleaners served by the Sanitation Districts, that dry clean garments on-site, are required to certify that they do not discharge separator water directly or indirectly to the sewer (zero discharge) or are required to apply for and subsequently obtain an industrial wastewater discharge permit and abide by its requirements. The discharge of wastewater from boilers, vacuum tanks, sinks and restrooms that is not contaminated by separator wastewater is allowed without having to obtain a permit. Compliance with these requirements will be confirmed by ongoing inspections of dry cleaning facilities by Districts' Industrial Waste Section personnel.


Certification of zero discharge of perchloroethylene-contaminated separator water is met by completing the following requirements:

  • Seal or secure from spills and accidental discharges all floor drains in areas where perchloroethylene is stored or used. Cement plugs, standpipes or berms may be used for this purpose.

  • Choose one of the following approved separator wastewater disposal methods and comply with associated requirements:

    • Off-site Waste Hauling Disposal manifests must be kept on-site for at least two years and must be made available to Sanitation Districts' personnel upon request.

    • On-site Evaporation to the Atmosphere Evaporators must vent to the atmosphere and have no connection to the sewer or any equipment that discharges to the sewer such as boilers, cooling towers or vacuum trucks. On December 9, 1994, the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted Rule 1421 which set performance standards for wastewater elimination systems, including evaporators, that became effective June 9, 1996. It is the responsibility of the dry cleaner to be aware of, and comply with, any regulations pertaining to the operation of an evaporator.

  • Complete the Perchloroethylene Dry Cleaner Zero Discharge Certification for Separator Wastewater forms. Keep one for your records and have it available for Sanitation Districts' Inspection Staff and return the other to the Sanitation Districts. New facilities must submit this form prior to commencement of dry cleaning operations.


If a dry cleaner chooses to continue to discharge separator water to the Sanitation Districts' sewerage system, an industrial wastewater discharge permit must be obtained. In order to receive a permit, the discharger must complete a permit application in accordance with the Sanitation Districts' Information and Instructions for Obtaining an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit, pay any local application fees, propose and install a pretreatment system capable of reducing perchloroethylene to below 5 mg/l (the saturation level for perchloroethylene is approximately 150 mg/l) and provide a standard sampling box for monitoring purposes. In addition, the discharger will be required to perform regular self-monitoring for perchloroethylene.


In order to assist dry cleaners in deciding which method to use to comply with these regulations, estimates have been made of the costs of the different options. These estimates are general in nature and should only be used as a starting point for estimating actual costs.






Zero Discharge, Waste Hauling



$4 - $7 per gallon or $110 per drum  (disposal fee is not including transportation fees)

Zero Discharge, Evaporation


$1,000 - $2,000 (evaporator purchase)

$0.10 per gallon (energy)

Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit

$500 - $1,300
(Department of
Public Works-permit and plan check fees)

$1,000 - $2,000 (sample box purchase and installation)

+$1,200 (carbon absorption pretreament)

$720 (self-monitoring)

$160 (carbon)

It is anticipated that most dry cleaners will opt for zero discharge of separator water because of the capital cost of pretreatment and sample box installation and the recurring cost of self-monitoring for perchloroethylene. Additional information is available from dry cleaner associations and the Institute for Research and Technical Assistance, 8579 Skyline Drive, Los Angeles, California 90046; (323) 656-1121.

To comply with these requirements, your company must submit to the Sanitation Districts either a completed Perchloroethylene Dry Cleaner Zero Discharge Certification for Separator Wastewater or a completed industrial wastewater discharge permit application. Should you choose to discharge separator water to the sewer, you should contact the Sanitation Districts' Industrial Waste Section at (562) 908-4288, extension 2900, and request a permit application package.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in a violation of the Sanitation Districts' Wastewater Ordinance resulting in enforcement action against your company. This could include petitioning the court for the imposition of civil liability in a sum not to exceed $25,000 per day of violation.

If you have questions regarding these requirements, please contact the Sanitation Districts' Industrial Waste Section at (562) 908-4288, extension 2900.