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Clean Car, Clean Conscience

Washing your vehicle at home uses more than 100 gallons of water on average. (Virginia Carter)
Washing your vehicle at home uses more than 100 gallons of water on average. (Virginia Carter)
May 23, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - How many times have you driven through your neighborhood and noticed people out washing their cars in the driveway?

The scene is depicted on television shows and at the movies too, but there's an effort under way to stop that practice.

Jane Maginot, urban stormwater educator for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, says outdoor car washing has the potential to result in high loads of nutrients, dirt, metals and hydrocarbons entering our waterways.

"If you wash your car onto a driveway or a street, the water that comes off that car, including all the soaps, all the oils, all of the heavy metals, the brake-pad dust, any of that dirt that's on your car is going to wash off onto this pavement," she says. "Then it's going to flow into a storm drain system and then empty out into a creek or stream without being treated."

Maginot came up with a fun way to get people to stop washing their cars on the street.

It's a contest where people are asked to take a selfie at a car wash, then put it on social media and tag it with #GoGreenDriveClean in order to win prizes.

The project is being led by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service through the Stormwater Education program. The contest runs through May 31.

Maginot says if you can't afford to take your vehicle to a car wash, wash it on the lawn.

"Even the little things as washing it on a surface like a good grassy lawn or a gravel driveway is better than nothing," she says. "It's better than doing it on a driveway."

Maginot says an average home wash can easily exceed 100 gallons of water, while some car washes use only 30 gallons per wash.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR