In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act in response to the polluting of the nation’s waterways from industry, sewage treatment plants and urban runoff. The Clean Water Act gave the states the power to begin solving this problem. Given this authority, the states enacted laws to begin healing our nation’s waterways by targeting cities, counties, and businesses to implement pollution prevention programs.
To regulate water quality, the state of California created a State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) as defined by the Clean Water Act. The SWRCB’s authority allows them to regulate any activity or factor that might affect the quality of state waters. This includes the prevention and correction of water pollution.
Recently, the SWRCB asked all state counties to apply for permits to discharge runoff into state waters, called National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES Municipal Stormwater permits. As a requirement of the NPDES Permit, each permittee is responsible for developing programs and passing ordinances to control and reduce their local runoff/pollution.
In October 1998, the City of Los Angeles passed the Stormwater and Urban Runoff Pollution Control Ordinance, which regulates all stormwater-polluting activities. However, the City agreed to provide an exemption for "car washing performed as a charitable or social fundraising activity by scholastic, religious, or community organizations in the City of Los Angeles." This exemption is based on an understanding of the intrinsic value of car wash fundraisers to communities and youth throughout the City. The Regional Water Quality Control Board required the City to develop a set of "good housekeeping" pollution prevention practices for distribution to and implementation by these organizations to minimize stormwater pollution from car washing events.
Stormwater Discharge and Car Wash Fundraisers
During a car wash, dirty water containing soap and detergents, residues from exhaust fumes, gasoline and motor oils washes off the cars, flows off the pavement and into nearby storm drains (usually openings in the curb/gutter). Unlike the water we use in our homes and businesses which is treated at wastewater treatment plants, the water that goes into storm drains flows directly into rivers, bays, oceans and lakes without any kind of treatment. Alone, one car wash fundraiser event will create little, adverse environmental impact. But, collectively, car wash fundraiser events contribute significant amounts of water pollution.
To help ensure your compliance with municipal regulations, we suggest that you follow the "Good Housekeeping Practices" listed below for an environmentally successful car wash fundraising event. Using these practices, you will meet two equally important goals: (1) Raise a lot of money for your organization and, (2) Minimize the amount of soapy wash water that enters any storm drain.
NOTE: Both the owner/occupant of the property on which you conduct your car wash and your organization are responsible for implementing these practices. Ensuring that your group implements these practices will protect the site owner/occupant and should make them supportive of hosting car wash events of the future.
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING PRACTICES FOR CAR WASH FUNDRAISING EVENTS
OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POLLUTION PREVENTION
Water conservation is as important as ensuring that runoff from your car wash fundraising event does not flow into local storm drains. The average person uses 65 gallons of water to wash their car. This total can increase to 3,600 gallons of water used during a car wash fundraising event where hundreds of cars are washed.
The following are some suggestions for ensuring that you clean cars with the least amount of water possible:
|For more information on running a successful and environmentally-safe carwash, download this free guide.