Car washing and environmental pollution

When we wash our car in the street we can easily pollute our rivers and harbors. The dirty soapy water and all the dirt that runs off the car, oil, grease and gasoline, as well as the car wash soap and other cleaners go into the storm water system. But where do they actually end up? Every car owner should be aware that all this rinse water and contaminants that run into drain system end up in rivers and other open water, as storm water, unlike the water which enters the sewers, does not undergo treatment before it gets into the lakes, rivers and oceans.

It is not easy at all to change the behavior of chronic car washers (people who wash their cars at least once a week), as many of this category don?t see or don?t want to see the connection between their actions and water quality. And if you are not too much worried about environmental protection you should keep in mind that polluting waterways in such a way is a breach of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and may result in a $750 fine for individuals or a $1500 fine for corporations.

Those car owners who are concerned that they may be fined for washing their cars on the street often send their enquiries to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Questions arise from fleet vehicle owners, civic groups, equipment wash companies and others about the proper wash water disposal in their activities. The number of such enquiries proves that this burning question is not widely covered in mass media.

In the USA a car is considered to be the second closest man?s friend after the dog. With more than 750 motor vehicles for every 1.000 Americans the car became a symbol of independence and freedom. Car owners want to know how to wash their cars in order to minimize the negative impact on the environment.

The following tips will help you to get answers to your questions. They are assigned not only for concerned individuals who ?want to do the right thing? but also for those people who traditionally views car washing on private property as unregulated and ?unregulatable?. Also you should keep in mind that while all of these tips are management practices and common sense recommendations, they must be observed by persons performing washing activities in order to be in compliance with Maine law.

Where to Wash Your Car

1. Wash your car on the grassy surface to minimize the runoff. Make sure you are not causing any inconveniences to pedestrians. As this is the breach of local councils? regulations.

2. You can wash your car in the driveway if it drains onto a lawn or garden area but never do this if the water runs into a street or a drain.

3. When you wash your car you must be sure that the area does not drain into the stormwater system, including the drains in the street.

4. If you can?t reasonably avoid washing the car over impervious surfaces (for example, in apartment communities), block off the storm drains and divert the runoff water to the sanitary sewer or a safe recharge area.

5. In case of absence of a suitable area to wash your car look for alternative area ? maybe one of your friends or neighbours has a suitable ground.

6. Suitable areas for car washing are always provided by service stations. The best place where you can wash your vehicle is a self serve car wash where the runoff water is treated to remove pollutants before getting into the sewer.

7. When washing your car use a trigger hose, hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles or at least bucket to save water.

8. Don?t use much detergent or soap. You?d better wash the car with plain water and coarse sponge. If you prefer detergents they must be biodegradable low- and no-phosphate.

9. The waste water must be disposed onto a lawn or garden.

10. Wash you car once, maximum twice a month and reduce the amount of cleaning products per wash.

Nowadays a lot of governmental and private corporations start campaigns which aim to encourage ?Do It Yourself? DIY car washers to switch to using commercial car washers. Such campaigns as ?Take Me Out to the Car Wash? promote the benefits of professional car washing and spread the word about the negative consequences of DIY car washing.

Commercial car washs

Commercial car wash premises treat the runoff water before disposing it into the sewer. However they have negative features also. Commercial car washes spend much more soap and hot water than hand washing.

There are some quite new car washes which clean, recycle and reuse the runoff water. Such systems consume much less water than standard ones and all waste water is treated before disposal.

So keeping your car clean and attractive-looking, take care of the environment at the same time! It is so easy!

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