Washing your car seems like such a clean activity, but it can have adverse results for our streams, wetlands and Tualatin River. Storm drains in your street typically go straight to the nearest stream. Pollutants being washed off cars include grease, oil, heavy metals, antifreeze, and asbestos. Car washing detergents themselves often include phosphates, a particular problem for the Tualatin River.
So with all those nasty pollutants coming off of your car, it is a good idea to remove them in a way that keeps them out of waterways. Choose your car wash wisely. Commercial car washes are required to send their wastewater to treatment plants that removes those pollutants. If you wash your car, you would typically use about 140 gallons of water.Commercial car washes that reclaim their wastewater can be far more water efficient than the driveway method. A commercial car wash can use over 200 gallons of water, but most of that water can be reclaimed, run through an oil-water separator, filtered and reused, leaving only 20-35 gallons being sent to the wastewater treatment plant (and none directly to our streams). Sediments are disposed of in a way appropriate for hazardous materials.
Water Friendly Fundraising Efforts
A favorite summertime fundraising activity of youth groups, sports teams and other community organizations is the car wash. Often these events are held in parking lots, allowing all the dirty soapy water to run into storm drains and directly into streams, wetlands or the Tualatin River. There are alternatives to the parking lot car wash are far better for our river and streams. Kaady Car Wash, with a dozen locations in the Tualatin Basin, will help your group to raise money by selling passes to their environmentally responsible car washes. Other commercial car washes have similar programs to support school activities and community groups.
Other Clean & Green Ways of Raising Funds
Collecting pledges for a walk-a-thon has been a popular fundraising method. An even better way would be to collect pledges to do environmentally beneficial activities, such as tree planting, litter collection, invasive plant removal, or storm drain stenciling. Groups such as SOLV, Friends of Trees, and the Tualatin Riverkeepers can help you organize such efforts. Raising money for your community organization can be fun, successful and good for the environment!