Keep local salmon in mind when you wash your car

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Shoreline Brown Bear automated tunnel
Commercial washes, salmon-friendly kits and washing on the lawn are ways to avoid polluting

Getting ready to wash that dirty car in your driveway? Before you do, think about the possible impact on local salmon and wildlife.

Soap — even biodegradable soap — can harm fish. So know where the soap will drain before you start washing your car.

Because salmon migrate back to local streams each summer to spawn, the quality of the water in those streams is often the main factor in their reproductive success.


Fish are more vulnerable to detergent from car washes in waterways during low-flow periods; and the year’s lowest flow period typically occurs in August and September — the time when most salmon return to the Puget Sound area streams to spawn.

US Fish & Wildlife.
You can help salmon by washing your car one of three ways this summer:

  1. Wash at a commercial carwash vendor that reclaims water used in the washing process.
  2. Support a charitable car wash that uses a Salmon-friendly Car Wash Kit, or is located at a site that drains directly into the sewer.
  3. Wash your car at home — on the lawn (or another absorbent surface), dispose of soapy water down the sink, or ensure the drains in your neighborhood do not connect to local waterways.

Unlike household wastewater that enters your sewer and is treated before being discharged into the environment, soap and oily grime that run off your car could potentially enter storm drains and flow into the Puget Sound.

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