High School Car Wash Shut Down Due to “Environmental Violations”

Doing car washes is an easy way to raise a little money. Pick a Saturday, get a group of volunteers together, and set up in a parking lot right outside some food establishment (as long as the owner’s OK with it). Wash people’s cars at no charge (with the drivers’ consent) and most of the time, people will throw in a couple dollars in tips. By the end of the day, you might end up with several hundred dollars. And then you use the money toward whatever project you were saving up for.

California environmental bureaucrats are putting an end to this practice, because it violates “water discharge laws.” Lincoln High School cheerleaders had scheduled a car wash in the parking lot of Hoover Middle School to raise money for a national competition next year in April. But they were instead paid a visit by the San Jose Environmental Services Department a couple days before the car wash.

The Communications Manager for the department Jennie Loft stated to the Mercury News, “Anything that is not storm water or rain water is considered a pollutant. If it goes into a storm drain, that pollutant will harm wildlife and habitats in the creeks. Water goes directly from the storm drains into our creeks.”

The Mercury News reported the environmental department’s guidelines for car washes:

Conduct car washing over gravel, grassy area, or other earthen areas if possible. Ensure that wash water (soapy or not) does not run into a street, gutter, or storm drain. Wash water from paved areas should be collected and diverted either into the sanitary sewer system or a landscaped area. Use different methods to protect the storm drain system. For example, block a storm drain on the parking lot used as a car wash zone, use a sump pump or wet/dry Shop-Vac to collect the wash water and pump it out to the sanitary sewer system. Ensure no soap stains remain on the ground. For groups still wanting to do car washes, there is waterless car wash equipment, but it’s expensive. A simple one online from ecotouch.net is $499 with one gallon of wash concentrate another $159. Loft said the same restrictions on washing cars that apply to school groups also apply to individuals. “What most people should do if washing their cars at home is park it on the lawn so the water is diverted into landscape,” she said. “Or go to a designated neighborhood car wash, so it doesn’t go into the storm drain.” She suggested that anyone seeing a car wash draining into a storm drain can call the phone number stenciled on storm drains and, “We’d be happy to talk with them.”

So they can’t even do a car wash anymore to raise money. Unless they want to save up and spend $700 on waterless car wash equipment. And how would they raise that money? I guess there’s always the lemonade stand option. Actually, that’s outlawed too, since they’d have to apply and pay for a business license.