State to Ban Residential Driveway Car Washing

To prevent toxic runoff from flowing down storm drains and into the rivers or ocean, Washington hopes to ban washing cars in driveways throughout the state.

While residents complain that washing cars is a family pastime that they should not be required to give up, officials say that the at-home car wash is too harmful to the environment to ignore. “I understand this is something people have done for a long time,” said Bill Moore, a water specialist with the Washington State Department of Ecology, which enacted the ban. “It’s not something we should be doing any longer.”

Commercial carwashes have drains which run into the sewer system and are treated, unlike the water which runs into storm drains. Moore said the runoff can be harmful to the local salmon and other fish populations.[social_buttons]

The ecology department has requested local governments to create their own laws forbidding the practice by next year, but the response has been mixed so far. While Seattle’s King County said they will pass a law in the coming months, the Southern city of Vancouver insists they will ignore the request. “An outright ban that puts something on the books that’s unrealistic to enforce just doesn’t make any sense,” said Brian Carlson, the city’s public works director. “And we would not enforce it. We’re not going to go around ticketing people for car washing.”

Carlson said they would instead ramp-up an education campaign to instruct people not to pour buckets of soapy water down the drain. Meanwhile the International Carwash Association, the trade group representing commercial carwashes, has come-out in full support of the ban.

Photo Credit: Neeta Lind on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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  1. MattKelly

    Gee, how about instead of banning at-home carwashing because of the toxicity of the runoff–perhaps we should instead be looking to regulate, or eliminate, those “toxic” soaps. Attack the problem at it’s source. Sounds to me to be more reasonable and enforceable.

  2. Carlos

    I got a better idea. How about we return our population levels to those of the 70’s. Then fewer of these hair brained restrictions would be necessary. How do we do it? Well, since 100% of this countries population doubling, over the last 40 yrs, has come from immigrants and the children thereof. Instead of carpooling, let’s try getting control of our borders. Instead of water rationing, let’s try border rationing.
    Wall Street has been the only beneficary of this non-sense, and look what they have done to us. It’s time to close the gate. There’s not a single environmental or social ill, that would not be mitigated by a reduction in population.

  3. John Norton

    I like Matt Kelly’s idea, but good luck with that Matt. How about we start retrofitting our infrastructure with the technology that is already available which provides filtration of storm water runoff before it returns it to the ground water source it came from through additional infiltration systems. And, while we’re at it, let’s start harvesting our rainwater through implementation of the same kinds of technology. It’s alot cheaper in the long run to use rainwater for nonpotable uses than it is to use any municiple water source. Check out the website that I listed, these guys in Australia are way ahead of us in the US. I’m glad to see that they’ve brought their technology to the US. But, it’s too bad I haven’t really heard of anyone using it, except in the Southwest and California.

  4. arnold T

    This is just the type of thing that drives people into the arms of Right-Wing Conservativeness. Getting too radical about Green Activism just turns people off.

    I can hear Rush Limbaugh now ranting about Lefty Crazies imposing their will on everybody else. Sunday washes are like Sunday church, it is sacred for far too many men who adore their cars.

    Environmentalists will lose the war if they do not learn how to compromise and adapt. Perfection and Utopia are not possible. Other, much more meaningful environmental issues need the priority and effort.

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