Outdoor vehicle washing has the potential to result in high loads of nutrients, dirt, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons entering our local waterways. Detergent-rich water used to wash dirt, oil and other pollutants off cars flows down driveways and streets into the City's storm drain system. This water then enters the local streams, creeks and lake where it can impair the local water quality, recreational areas, harms wildlife and can increase the cost of treating our drinking water.

If you wash your car or other motorized vehicle at home, follow these steps to prevent pollution from entering our local waterways:

  • Use low phosphate or phosphate free detergents. Detergents in streams can kill fish and their eggs, as well as inhibit their ability to reproduce. They can also destroy the natural protections fish have against bacteria and parasites and can severely damage a fish's gills. The phosphates from soap can also cause excess algae to grow in our waterways. Excessive algae growth makes water cloudy, green, unattractive, smelly, and unhealthy for swimming, boating, fishing, or drinking.
  • Wash vehicles on gravel, grass, or other permeable surfaces. Avoid washing on concrete or asphalt unless it drains into a vegetated area. Vegetated areas allow runoff water to be filtered which removes most pollutants before it enters our waterways.
  • Use a trigger nozzle on your hose and a bucket to conserve water.
  • Always empty wash buckets into sinks or toilets, never into the street or storm drain.
  • Use a commercial car wash facility where wash water is treated and cleaned before it is returned to the environment.