After lawn watering, summer car washing produces
the second largest demand for peak summer water use. It has been estimated that professional car washes use less than one
tenth of one percent of the water used by a municipality daily.
professional car washes use water reclamation systems to significantly reduce water usage.
Professional car washes discharge their water into a separate sanitary sewer
or treat and recycle it. Discharge is not emptied into storm drains. Most storm drains carry excess rainwater directly into
nearby waterways without any additional cleaning of that water. Putting anything down a storm drain is the equivalent of dumping
it straight into your local lake, river or steam.
residents do not associate the effects of driveway washing with local water quality, and may be unaware that the pollutants
that enter storm drains are not treated at plants before being discharged into local waters. Detergents, even the biodegradable
ones, can have a toxic effect on a wide variety of marine life. For home car washing, use a bucket of water and dispose of
the water in the sink (so that the water will be treated). Wash on a grassy area or other pervious porous surface such as
gravel that can provide filtration layers for small discharges — and prevent travel into storm drains.
If your organization is hosting a carwash fundraiser, consider
using a local self-serve or commercial facility. Professional car wash facilities collect detergent and road grit from washing
cars and dispose of it in a safe manner that protects our environment. “Charity car washing is no trivial matter. During
a typical event between 2,000 – 7,000 gallons of water are combined when soap, detergents, oil and grease, heavy metals
and other pollutants, are washed down the storm drain. Water from these events typically runs into a storm drain that discharges
directly into receiving waters.”*