If residents in several cities in Clark County, Washington want to get their cars clean, they could soon be forced to do it at retail car washes. According to an employee at the Washington state Department of Ecology, the state wants "people to make the connection of 'what goes on the street goes into the creek.'" And soapy car wash residue is something they don't want in the creek.
The state wants the cities to come up with a way to keep any water that isn't rain water from getting into the environment without being treated. The cities, about a dozen in all, say that's crazy, and have threatened to sue the state for trying to enact measures that exceed federal Clean Water Act.
The state suggests that if people still want to clean their cars, that they don't use soap with phosphorus, and wash their cars on gravel or grass where the water will be filtered by the soil. That's ironic, because part of the state's measure also requires sprinkler water to be captured and treated. Residents could always try the state's other option: don't use soap at all.