Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2014
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This Month's Articles

Back-to-School Safety 101:

Hope for the Best…..Prepare for the Worst!

Telephone Alerts Available for Flooding Hazards

The War on Food Waste

Little Red School House Drive a Big Success!

A Herd of Folks at the Thurston County Fair

Making it in the Dry Years

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 Planning a Fund Raiser Car Wash?

Do it the environmentally responsible way

Lilies and mums aren’t the only things popping up this summer -- so are youth group car wash events. Car wash fundraisers go hand-in-hand with summertime. But what happens to the soapy, grimy wash water when the cars are rinsed off? If it’s not a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” charity car wash site, the dirty wash water may flow down the nearest stormwater catch basin and into the nearest stream, lake or Puget Sound – untreated. Besides being harmful to water quality, untreated car wash water is also a violation of local, state and federal stormwater pollution laws.

Car wash water contains more than soap and dirt. It may also contain pollutants such as copper and zinc, petroleum products, antifreeze and other contaminants. These pollutants adversely affect the health of streams as well as the salmon, “stream bugs” and other aquatic organisms that live in them.

Even car wash soap can harm streams and aquatic organisms. Car wash soap often contains surfactants and nutrients, such as phosphates. Excess nutrients in water bodies can cause rapid growth of algae, which blocks sunlight used by aquatic plants for photosynthesis. Algae blooms can also lead to the depletion of dissolved oxygen that fish need, resulting in fish kills.

The good news is there are options for raising money that are in compliance with local, state and federal laws and that helps keep streams clean too! The best option is to sell commercial car wash tickets. Commercial car wash facilities are better for the environment because they use less water than traditional “bucket and hose” car washes, plus they remove some pollutants before piping the dirty car wash water to a treatment facility. Groups purchase tickets for $2.50 each and typically resell them for $5 or $6 each, even more! To find out more about car wash fundraiser tickets go to: Charitycarwash.org. Tickets can be used at most local car washes and can be sold, rain or shine.

If your organization still wants the experience of washing cars with a bucket and hose, then your local storm and surface water utility can help you find a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” approved car wash site. “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” fundraiser car wash sites either drain to a stormwater system that filters out some of the pollutants or to a stormwater pond that offers some treatment of pollutants.

In addition to helping you find an appropriate car wash site, the utility will provide you with a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” car wash kit, which includes biodegradable car wash soap, buckets, sponges and a sign that lets people know you are hosting a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” approved charity car wash.

To Find a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” Car Wash Site and to Reserve a “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” car wash kit, call:

  • City of Lacey……….360-438-2687
  • City of Olympia…….360-753-8346
  • City of Tumwater…..360-754-4148
  • Thurston County……360-754-3355 ext. 4


So, this summer, look for the “Clean Cars, Clean Streams” sign and know that you are helping to keep our streams clean while supporting a worthwhile fundraiser!

By Chris Maun

Look for the Look for the "Clean Cars" sign.