We’ve covered this one before, so I’m sending a quick reminder about washing your car in Edmonds. Car washing in Edmonds is not illegal, however discharging soapy, dirty washwater into the storm drain is a violation of federal, state, and City regulations. As we all know, storm drains in Edmonds carry untreated runoff from streets and parking lots and discharge it into Puget Sound, and our lakes, streams and wetlands.
What’s the problem?
Car washwater and rinse water contain a mixture of soaps, oils, heavy metals and other crud that we wash off of our vehicles. Once the washwater reaches the street it flows into storm drains, which flow into Edmonds’ streams, lakes and Puget Sound. This soapy, polluted water is harmful to aquatic plants and animals.
What about soaps?
Soaps can harm fish and other aquatic life by breaking the surface tension of water and lowering the oxygen level. Avoid soaps that contain phosphates, which can cause unwanted algae blooms in surface waters, which further lower oxygen levels when they die. Instead, use biodegradable or “green” soaps. Even these soaps, however, are harmful to aquatic life and water quality, so please use soap sparingly.
What can you do to keep our waters clean?
- Take your car to a commercial car wash - it uses less water while more effectively cleaning your car. And the water is reused and eventually sent to the sanitary sewer plant for treatment.
- When washing your car at home, wash it on a lawn or gravel area, or direct the soapy wash water to a lawn or gravel area. And don’t forget to use a shut-off nozzle to conserve water!
- Use waterless car wash products, available at auto parts stores and online. There’s no soapy wash water, and it saves water too!
- If you’re a community group or school and want to hold an environmentally-friendly charity car wash, borrow a Car Wash Kit from the City (free of charge!). Each kit has all the equipment you’ll need - hoses, safety cones, and a basin to capture and divert the soapy water away from the storm drain and onto a lawn (or other vegetated area) or to the sanitary sewer.
- If you live in a condominium or apartment complex, ask your Homeowners Association or apartment manager to purchase a SudSafe Car Wash Kit for use at your complex. The kit will allow you to wash your vehicle in your parking lot and direct the soapy wash water to the sanitary sewer, not the storm drain.
If you want to reserve or need information on a Car Wash Kit or have questions or comments, contact Mike Cawrse at 425.771.0220 x1322 or email@example.com.