Saturday, July 20, 2013

Stories about Getting to Clean Water: A Pullman Partnership: Not Wishy-Washy about Preventing Stormwater Pollution

By Diane Dent, Water Quality Stories Lead, Water Quality Program

Soapy water flowing into a catch basin where the pump transfers it to the sanitary sewer. Photo credit: Pullman Stormwater Services.


Each summer, charity car washes pop up at various locations around the cities and towns we live in. These car washes are set up with the best of intentions to raise money for many worthy causes. But what happens to all that grime and sudsy water flowing across the parking lot? If that dirty, sudsy water flows into a storm drain, there is a good chance it flows directly into a nearby stream. All the oils, fluids, and dirt on the cars can end up degrading the stream’s water quality, harming the fish and insects living there.

The situation

Under the Eastern Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit, the city is required to eliminate illicit discharges to its stormwater system to ensure only rain goes down the drain. That sudsy carwash water running into a catch basin is an illicit discharge. But no city wants to shut down a charity carwash, so Pullman sought a solution that would allow the car washes to continue without dirty water entering nearby streams.

To find out how Pullman resolved this dilemma, read the full story online.

Story written by Elaine Snouwaert Ecology Eastern Regional Office.

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