Keep our creeks safe for fish, people and pets
Washing your car on the street or in your driveway results in large
amounts of dirt, road grime, oils, metals, and soaps flowing down the street
and into storm drains. Even biodegradable soaps harm fish and other aquatic
life. The term "biodegradable" is not regulated and does not ensure
environmental safety. In addition, each year our vehicles leak over 16
million gallons of motor oil and other petroleum products into the Puget
Sound watershed, more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These pollutants wash
into storm drains, which flow directly to the nearest creek, lake, or
Bellingham Bay, killing fish and harming the people and pets that recreate
in these areas.
Use a Commercial Car Wash
Using a commercial car wash will keep harmful chemicals, like oils,
metals, and soaps, from entering our streams, lakes and the Bay. Commercial
car-washes recycle the waste water and send it to the wastewater plant for
Wash on Your Lawn
When washing your car at home, wash it on your lawn or a pervious
surface, where water will soak into the ground and pollutants will be
filtered out. Use phosphorous-free soap to decrease the amount of nutrients
entering our waterways. Excess nutrients harm water quality and aquatic
Fundraising Car Washes
Make your fundraising car wash watershed friendly!
- Sell commercial car wash coupons from local car wash
companies. This allows you to sell tickets any time of year, expand
fundraising beyond one event, and doesn’t leave you dependent on the
weather. If you are interested in selling car wash coupons for your
fundraiser, contact Terry Todd at Sunset Car Wash, 734-1300 ext. 10.
- Conduct fundraising car-wash events at
Public Market, which has an outdoor area that drains to the sewer
system where the water is treated.
- Call the Public Works Stormwater
group to request an assessment of your own car wash site. You can
reserve a car wash kit that will pump dirty wash water to a nearby sewer
Fix Leaks Right Away
Improve the reliability and safety of your car by fixing leaks
immediately. In the short term, place drip pans or cardboard under your car
to prevent oil from reaching our streams or wetlands. Stormwater runoff
containing just one pint of oil can make a slick larger than a football
field. Store and dispose of materials safely. Call the Recycling Hotline at
360-676-5723 for more information.
Dispose of Chemicals Safely
Never pour vehicle waste, including oil and antifreeze, into storm
or sewer drains, septic systems or onto the ground. If you change your own
oil, you can recycle your used oil with your
recycling. Get a reusable container, such as a clean milk jug or soda
bottle, and drain the oil carefully into the container, avoiding splatter
and spills. Seal the container securely and mark it “oil.” Set it out with
your curbside recycling or take it to your nearest
used oil collection site.
Give Your Car a Break
Reduce the time and money you spend on car maintenance by leaving
your car at home more often. Carpool with a friend, take the bus, walk or
bike to work at least once a week.