Home Car Washing Wastes Water and Leads to Water Pollution
Most people who wash their cars at home don't realize where the contaminated water goes or how much is wasted. Home car washing releases contaminated water directly into the environment or into storm drains intended for rainwater. This causes pollution in our rivers, lakes and streams. Also, engineering studies show that a 5/8" hose running at 50 pounds per square inch uses 10 gallons of water per minute compared to washing your car at a self-serve car wash for only 11.1 gallons.
Consider the alternatives of professional car washing:
- Average flow rate wash and rinse: 3GPM (gallons per minute)
- Average flow rate per-soak foaming brush and tire & engine cleaning: 0.6 GPM
- Average time for washing and rinsing vehicle: 2.6 minutes
- Average time for pre-soak, foaming brush and tire & engine: 5.3 minutes
- Average water used for wash and rise: 7.9 gallons
- Average water used for others: 3.2 gallons
We have learned our lessons about polluting the environment. We disposed of trash by burning it in open areas until environmental concern decreased this form of pollution. It's time to recognize that home car washing is another serious pollution but it can be eliminated simply by using professional car washes.
Professional Car Washes Use Water Safely and Efficiently
The Clean Water Act requires professional car washes to pipe their dirty water to water treatment facilities or into state-approved drainage facilities designed to protect the environment. Automatic and self-serve car washes also use water efficient equipment such as computer controlled systems and high-pressure nozzles and pumps, allowing them to clean cars thoroughly while conserving water.
10 Tips to Save Water
Let's not take our water supply for granted. It is important to follow guidelines so we can have the water we need and want, when we need and want it. The International Carwash Association offers 10 ways to save water and money at the same time. Your professional car wash operator is happy to share this knowledge with you and remind you that one of the ways to save both water and money, as well as protect your car's finish, is to patron a professional car wash frequently.
- Check all your faucets for drips. By completely turning off faucets and reducing your amount of water used for tooth brushing, hand washing and shaving, you will help reduce your personal water consumption.
- Install flow restrictors and other conservation devices on showers and faucets. These water savers are available in most hardware, grocery and discount stores.
- Use your automatic washing machine and dish washer only for full loads. You will make the most of the water used.
- In removing rust-causing salt from your car, use a professional car wash. Automatic and self-serve car washing uses far less water than the home wash that may result in wasted water, needlessly running hoses and tipping buckets.
- Take shorter showers. Long, hot showers can waste up to ten gallons for each unused minute.
- Place plastic bottles in your toilet tank. Fill them with water to weigh them down, placing them away from operating mechanisms. In the average home, this action can easily save ten or more gallons of water per day.
- Check for leaks in your household pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings. These can be found by thoroughly examining your pipes and plumbing systems. It's less expensive to fix than to continue paying for wasted water.
- Instead of hosing, use a sweeper or broom to clean the garage, driveway, floors or sidewalk.
- Keep a bottle of drinking water in your refrigerator. This is important to avoid wasteful running of tap water to cool it off for drinking.
- Teach your children the facts of water usage. Practicing the tips listed here will help us have enough water for future generations.
Washing the car
Cars that are washed in the street can pollute our rivers and harbors. The soapy water that runs off the car into the gutters goes into the storm water system. Storm water, unlike the water, which enters the sewers, does not undergo treatment before it is discharged into our waterways. Any pollutants in storm water end up in our lakes, rivers, harbors and oceans. Polluting waterways in this 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.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) receives enquiries from car owners who are concerned that they may be fined for washing their cars on the street. Car owners also want to know how to wash their cars in ways, which minimize the impact on the environment. The EPA believes that a combination of education and 'best practice' is generally more appropriate than fines, so this leaflet contains information for members of the community about the impact that washing a car has on the environment, and about their legal obligations.
How big is the problem?
The waste water that runs off a car when it is washed contains a range of substances that may pollute the environment. These include soaps and detergents, mud, rubber and grease.
If these substances enter the storm water system, they will eventually find their way into our lakes, rivers, harbors and oceans - wherever the storm water discharges.
There are approximately 3.2 million vehicles registered in NSW. If every vehicle was washed once a month with 40 litres of water (5 buckets), over 1500 million litres of polluted water could enter the storm water system every year.
Where to wash your car
- Try to wash your car on a grassy area to minimize the runoff. However, if this grassy area is on a nature strip, make sure you are not causing any disruption or inconvenience to pedestrians, as this is an offence against regulations administered by local councils.
- Wash your car in the driveway if it drains onto a lawn or garden area, but avoid using the driveway if the water runs into a street or drain.
- Always ensure the area where you wash your car does not drain into the storm water system, including the drains in the street.
- If you have no suitable area to wash your car, look for an alternative location - perhaps your friends or neighbors have a suitable area you can use.
- Some service stations provide an area for car washing, where runoff water is treated to remove pollutants before it goes into the sewer.
When you wash your car
- Use a trigger hose - or even better, a bucket - to save water.
- Use detergents and soaps sparingly. Better still, just use plain water, a coarse sponge and a little elbow grease.
- Dispose of waste water onto a garden or lawn.
- Consider washing your car only once a month.
Commercial car washes
Commercial car wash premises treat wastewater before disposing of it in the sewer. But remember, a commercial car wash uses far more hot water and soap than hand washing. There are also some newer commercial car washes which clean, recycle and reuse water in their 'do it yourself' car wash bays. These systems use much less water than standard car wash premises and all wastewater is treated before disposal. Check whether your car wash company recycles its water. Car wash companies are listed in the Yellow Pages under motorcar & truck cleaning services.
Washing your car at home not only uses more gallons of water than a commercial car wash, but it also can introduce soap, oil, and engine grime to the environment.
The dirty water and soap that come off your car at home usually flow down the driveway, into a curb inlet or gutter, and end up in a nearby creek or river. Curb inlets are designed to drain rainwater from the streets to prevent flooding. This water does not go to a water treatment facility to be cleaned. By using a commercial car wash, the soap and dirty water enter a filter system, which removes grit and oil. The water then flows through the sanitary sewer to a treatment facility where the water is cleansed.
Did You Know?
Fort Worth's Environmental Management Department has found that the most common pollutant in our storm drains and neighborhood creeks is detergent.
What Are We Doing?
We are telling people that pollutants like detergent, oil, and pesticides don't belong in storm drains. The City of Fort Worth has placed plaques similar on many curb inlets throughout the city. If your group would like to participate in a fish plaque project, call 871-5451.
What Can You Do?
Take your car to a commercial car wash. The chemicals are filtered and sent to a water treatment facility for cleaning. If you must wash your car at home: try using just water and a rag use only minimal amounts of soap - a little goes a long way use a spray release nozzle for your hose to reduce water use and runoff into the street wash your car on the lawn - your yard acts as a sponge and prevents soapy water from flowing down the curb.
- Try using water and a rag
- Use only minimal amounts of soap - a little goes a long way
- Use a spray release nozzle for your hose to reduce water use and run off into the street
- Wash your car on the lawn - your yard acts as a sponge and prevents soapy water from flowing down the curb.
Professional Carwashes Are The Environment's
By taking your vehicle to one of the many professional carwash facilities you are helping to preserve one of our country's most valued assets - the environment.
Did you know that professional carwashes only use eight to 45 gallons of water per car depending on the type of carwash? Washing your car at home in the driveway, for only 10 minutes, wastes 80 to 140 gallons of water. To top that off, the untreated waste water and soaps, oils, and sludge from a home carwash seep directly into the environment via storm sewers, which are not intended for this type of use. The dirty water at a professional carwash is either treated and reused, piped to water treatment facilities or runs into municipal-approved drainage facilities & endash; much better solutions for the environment. Unfortunately, not enough motorists are aware of these facts.
Nearly 40 percent of the motoring public washes at home. This is a tragic reflection on how many of us treat the environment. But it doesn't have to be.If you haven't tried a professional carwash or you haven't been to one lately, there is no time like the present to get your vehicle thoroughly cleaned and conditioned while protecting the environment we all cherish.Another Danger to the Environment - Acid Rain.
Did you know that another danger to the environment & endash; acid rain & endash; is also a danger to your vehicle's finish? You don't have to look any further than your car's finish to see the effects of acid rain. Acid rain damage to automobile finishes is widespread and manifests itself in dull-looking spots that are etched into you car's finish. As a result, the professional carwash industry urges motorists to wash their cars after a rainfall in order to remove acid-containing rainwater produced by emissions from fossil-fuel burning engines or plants that react with your car's paint to form sulfuric and nitric acids.A professional carwash is able to remove this harmful acidity.
|The International Carwash Association (ICA), headquartered in Chicago, IL, recommends frequent washing (every 10 days) to help eliminate the problems of acid rain and keep your vehicle looking new. The average passenger car on the road today is nearly eight years old, which means car owners are keeping their cars longer and taking better care of them. Frequent professional car washing should be an important part of that care. Professional carwashes help preservethe environment while takingexcellent care of the investmentyou've made in your automobile. High-pressure nozzles and pumps at professional carwashes are designed to get the most use out of water flow and conserve water. Full-service carwashes use 15-32 gallons of water per cycle. Exterior-only carwashes use 15-28 gallons of water per cycle. In-bay automatic/rollover carwashes use 24-45 gallons of water per cycle. Self-serve (coin op) carwashes use 8-12 gallons of water per cycle. In 60 seconds, a typical five-eighths inch garden hose running at a typical household pressure of 50 psi (pressure per square inch) uses 14 gallons of water. Many carwashes recycle water or adjust spray nozzles to even further reduce overall water use.