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Protecting our waterways begins at home

Media Release - 26 October 2010

Did you know that every time you wash your car on the street or driveway you are releasing the equivalent of a bottle of wine of polluted sludge into our stormwater system?

That is the claim from Clean Up Australia – and the outcome is devastating for our native wildlife.

“Now that water restrictions have been eased, people are washing their cars at home again, unaware that with every wash they’re sending approximately 750ml of waste sludge – including grease, oil, rubber and heavy metals such as lead and zinc – into our stormwater systems,” said Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman of Clean Up Australia.

“With nearly 4 million vehicles in Victoria, that sludge all adds up to a huge impact on the animal and plant life in our rivers, creeks and coastlines.”

Marine creatures such as the growling grass frog – a critically endangered species; the Murray crayfish; fresh water turtles - which are nationally threatened; the dramatic water dragon, saltwater pythons and the salt water crocodile are being adversely affected by waterway pollution.

Clean Up Australia has joined forces with the Australian Car Wash Association in a campaign to spread the word and encourage community uptake of responsible car washing.

Clean Up says that commercial car washes accredited under the Australian Car Wash Association’s Water Rating Scheme and the federal Smart Approved Water Mark are the best option for keeping vehicles clean while also protecting the environment.

The stormwater drain in the street looks similar to the water drain at a commercial car wash, but in fact they are very different. Commercial car washes are required to have EPA approved ‘trade waste’ collection pits for sludge and pollutant silt and dirt.  And from there all the wastewater goes to sewer for safe treatment.

“Already 220 car washes across Victoria have been accredited under the Water Rating Scheme,” said Mr Kiernan

“To find an accredited car wash near you that captures, cleans and re-uses water -preventing pollutants from entering our stormwater systems – simply go to www.wheretowashmycar.com.au .”

Charles Warren, Australian Car Wash Association CEO, says that the 5 star signage is a guarantee that you are using a water-efficient car wash.

“Once the public is aware that washing a vehicle on the streets or on any other paved area contributes to the degradation of our rivers and coastlines, I am sure that they will consider alternatives which are more environmentally sensitive,” said Mr Warren.  “Going to a car wash is as affordable as going out for coffee – and it’s quick and easy.”


For further information contact:
Marita Dortins, Clean Up Australia: 0415 385 056
Charles Warren, Australian Car Wash Association: 0409 583 255