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.
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