Car washing is part of keeping a well-maintained vehicle, but did you know that where and how you wash your car can make a huge impact on our local waterways?
Washing my car can’t be that bad can it?
Washing your car on the street can be a significant source of water pollution over time. When you wash your car on the street, the dirt, grime, and silt from your car rinses into storm drains and out into our waterways. The fine particulates from cars that get into stormwater can smother fish eggs and suffocate fish living in streams and rivers. Furthermore, the phosphorus found in many soaps can also wash into stormwater and act as a fertilizer for algae. The result is a lack of oxygen caused by algae growth (a.k.a. algae “blooms”) which degrades in-stream habitat for aquatic wildlife and make waterways unusable for human enjoyment like fishing, boating or swimming. Washing one car on the street may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider the impact of thousands of people washing cars it becomes a bit more serious.
How you can help
One of the best ways to help is to make sure your car wash water doesn’t flow directly into a storm drain. There are a few ways to do this:
- The first is by using a commercial car wash, either a self-serve wash or a mechanical wash. These car washes have drains connected to the sanitary sewer, which treats water prior to release into the ecosystem.
- If you’d like to wash your car at home, then try parking your car on a patch of grass, gravel, or another surface that allows water to seep into the ground rather than flowing straight into a storm drain. By seeping into the ground, the phosphorus and dirt from the wash water is filtered out by the soil and roots of plants before the water reaches a waterway.
Charity car washes can support a cause and a healthy environment. The City of Lynnwood Public Works Department has a charity car wash drain kit that can be checked out for free. The charity car wash kit keeps all runoff water out of our waterways by rerouting it away from the storm drain and into the sanitary sewer where it will be treated. To reserve the kit for your next school, club, church, or other community group event, contact Jared Bond at (425) 670-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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