Scouts launch eco-friendly car wash
May 12, 2009 · Updated 1:10 AM
Residents can check it out and give it a try May 23
Cub Scout Pack 500, Boy Scout Troop 422, the city of Enumclaw, King County and the State Department of Ecology will team up May 23 to host an environmentally friendly “green” car wash to educate the public about things we all can do to protect water quality.
Everyone has seen groups washing cars for charitable events in local parking lots. Not many people realize that washing cars over paved surfaces is one of the most environmentally unfriendly chores. Unlike household waste water that enters sewers or septic systems and undergoes treatment before it is discharged into the environment, the oil, dirt, and grime, along with detergents, and wax that is washed from cars flows down the storm drain and into wetlands, creeks, streams, rivers and, eventually, Puget Sound. The runoff can poison fish and other aquatic life and damage their ecosystems. Pollution can also get into drinking water through water treatment plants removing water from streams and rivers downstream.
This charity event will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the 23rd along Kasey Kahne Drive just east of the Enumclaw Public Library. Runoff from the car wash will be collected before it can run down the storm drain and be pumped and sprinkled on the field just south of Washington Street. Oils and greases will settle in the grass where they’ll be consumed by microorganisms and the water is cleaned as it percolates down through the soil, replenishing groundwater.
“Most of us living in the beautiful Northwest don’t recognize the impact our daily activities have on our streams, rivers, lakes and the Puget Sound” said Stormwater Management Consultant and Engineer Ross Dunning, the event’s organizer and a Cub Scout father. “We’ve organized this event to educate our boys, their families and the public about the importance of protecting our water resources and what we can all do to be involved and make a difference. We hope to see the whole community come out on Saturday the 23rd, and help support the Scouts and protect our environment.”
Jay Manning, the director of the state Department of Ecology, said “Stormwater is by far the greatest threat we face in protecting Washington’s rivers and streams. Unlike other pollution sources, the pollutants carried by stormwater come from all of us. Countless tiny sources of pollution, such as drops of oil or antifreeze, copper shavings from car brakes, zinc from galvanized fencing, air pollutants like mercury or diesel soot that fall to the ground, and many others, all get swept up and washed into our rivers and streams when it rains. Alone, these sources are miniscule. But added up, the problem is enormous, and is truly our greatest water pollution challenge.”
The good news is that anyone can make a difference and it’s that philosophy the Scouts are embracing with their car wash.
“To reduce the adverse impacts of stormwater, we all have to do our small part,” Manning said. “We should be cautious in our use of fertilizers, pick up after our pets, and make sure our vehicles are not dripping oils and grease onto the road. We should also be mindful when we wash our cars and trucks at home. Changing how we do things can be hard. But we’ve demonstrated that we can and will do it when given adequate information and alternatives.
“Dumping used motor oil down the storm drain used to be common practice, but now we know better.”
The Scout green car wash will be marked by a day of fun, food and environmental education. Bert the Salmon, King County’s water quality mascot, will be on hand and the Enumclaw Fair Bear will be there, too.
Lindsey Winborn with the city of Enumclaw’s Public Works Department adds, “The city is committed to protecting our water quality and we’re excited for the opportunity to team up with local groups like Cub Scout Pack 500 and Boy Scout Troop 422 to help educate the public on the importance of protecting our water resources.”