Pierce County offers free 'fish-friendly' car wash kits

Warm weather is on its way, and fundraising car wash season is about to be in full swing. To keep car washes fish-friendly, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities lends out free car wash kits designed to keep soapy water out of storm drains and away from fish.

Soap, oil, and other pollutants can be particularly toxic to fish and other aquatic life when they flow down storm drains and directly into streams, lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. The kits help by collecting car wash runoff and directing it to a sewage treatment facility or a nearby grassy area.

The kits come with the supplies you need to have a fish-friendly car wash including: a catch basin insert, submersible pump, garden hose, extension cord, instructions, and a large sign identifying the car wash as fish-friendly.

Now in their second year, the kits have been used by many organizations for fundraising and offer an opportunity for both car wash organizers and patrons to learn more about the impacts of car washing on the environment.

“We encourage residents to watch for these signs and make a point of patronizing car wash fundraisers that use the fish-friendly kit,” said Dan Wrye, water quality manager for Surface Water Management. “Another good option is to use a commercial car wash where the water is recycled and then sent to a wastewater treatment facility.”

“Car washes are an easy and popular way for groups to raise money, so we’re pleased to offer a solution that allows car washes without sacrificing fish,” Wrye added.

There is no charge to borrow the kits. To reserve one, contact the Surface Water Management Division at (253)798-2725. For more information go to http://www.piercecountywa.org/carwash .

As an alternative to hosting your own car wash, the Puget Sound Car Wash Association has a fundraising program that allows charities to sell tickets for use at a commercial car wash. Organizations can purchase tickets for $2.50 each and they can usually be resold for up to $8.00. To find out more, contact 1-800-509-WASH or http://www.charitycarwash.org .