Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
Date: June 9, 2011

Contact: Mindy Fohn
Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management
360-337-5777 or

No: 2011-040


Sell Car Wash Coupons as Alternative to Traditional Parking Lot Fundraisers

(Port Orchard, WA) - With warmer weather finally here, many groups may consider holding a car wash to raise money. In Kitsap County, local car washes and Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management Program “team up” on an alternative to parking lot fundraisers—the Fundraiser Car Wash Program. This program allows groups to sell coupons good for a basic car wash at commercial car washes from Port Orchard to Bainbridge Island. To get started, contact the Program Administrator at 360-697-1144. You can learn more about the program at here.

Many people may ask, “What’s the difference between washing a car in a parking lot or at a commercial car wash?” Fundraiser car washes generate a lot of polluted water, and this polluted runoff could flow untreated into the storm system and eventually Puget Sound. In contrast, commercial car washes properly treat the wash water and then discharge it to the sanitary sewer system where it undergoes a thorough treatment process before being discharged into Puget Sound.

One fundraiser car wash generates over 1,000 gallons of polluted water. This water contains oils, grease, elements from brake linings, rust, trace amounts of benzene, and possibly chromium. Soap, even biodegradable soap, is toxic to fish. Several studies analyze the pollution generated from traditional parking lot car washes, including one done by Central Kitsap High School students (click here), and another in Federal Way (click here).

The runoff from car washing can enter the stormwater system, including drains, storm ponds, swales or ditches. This runoff receives little or no treatment and flows to creeks, lakes and Puget Sound, bringing with it all those pollutants. Stormwater systems are not designed to treat large volumes of this concentrated toxic soup of water.

“Water from car washing contains pollutants, and we want to make sure that this wash water does not end up in our streams and Puget Sound,” says Mindy Fohn, Water Quality Manager for Kitsap County’s Surface and Stormwater Management Program. “One of the most effective ways to keep vehicle wash water out of our waterways is to wash vehicles at a commercial car wash.”

The commercial property owner, such as a gas station or church, is responsible for preventing wash water from leaving their site and entering storm drains. “We are working with property owners to keep polluted runoff, including runoff from car washes, out of the storm system. Property owners are welcome to contact us for technical assistance,” says Fohn.

When washing your car at home, wash it on the grass, gravel, or in an area where the wash water drains to a vegetated area instead of flowing down the driveway to a storm drain or ditch.

For more information about the Surface and Stormwater Management Program, visit





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Last Updated: 
May 27, 2014