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The Australian Car Wash Association and Clean Up Australia

Media Release - October 2011

The Australian Car Wash Association, Clean Up Australia and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke team up to educate locals on the dangers of uncontrolled car washing

The Australian Car Wash Association (ACWA) and Clean Up Australia have teamed up to raise awareness of the damage that uncontrolled car washing is causing to South East Queensland’s waterways and marine life.

ACWA President Richard Holloway and Clean Up Australia Day Founder Ian Kiernan  AO will also be joined by Gold Coast Major Ron Clarke at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre to highlight the impact of uncontrolled car washing on the environment and show the community how they can work together to combat the problem of stormwater pollution.

According to the Australian Car Wash Association (ACWA), approximately 400 Olympic sized swimming pools of sludge enter South East Queensland’s waterways each year as a result of uncontrolled car washing which has caused Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke to throw his support behind the cause.

“Uncontrolled car washing is actually illegal in Queensland many Queenslanders would be shocked to learn just how serious this issue has become with alarming levels of sediment, brake dust, oils and metals flowing directly into stormwater drains when people wash their cars on the street or in their driveway,” said Richard Holloway, President of the ACWA.

“We applaud the efforts of Mr Clarke and encourage other local councils to help do more to educate the public on this serious environmental issue.

“If everyone takes care and washes their vehicles on the lawn or uses an accredited car wash facility with underground collection tanks, the future of South East Queensland’s waterways will be much brighter!”

Serious pollutants that can enter stormwater as a result of washing cars include petroleum hydrocarbons, motor oil, solid sediments, nitrogen and phosphorous, heavy metals including copper, lead and zinc.

Clean Up Australia Founder Ian Kiernan AO agrees that many Queenslanders wouldn’t be aware of just how much damage these chemicals, as a result of even a single carwash, can do to the environment.

“Every time we wash our car we create about 750 millilitres  of toxic sludge, enough to fill a bottle of soft drink,” said Mr Kiernan. “It may not seem like a lot, but when you multiply this by the number of cars washed every weekend the result is significant.”
According to research completed by the ACWA, the chemicals found in stormwater runoff as a result of washing cars can be extremely detrimental to local marine life and ecosystems.

“These chemicals can wipe out entire ecosystems when concentrated enough, with toxic chemicals creating a thick matt of sludge on seagrass beds which dramatically impact food chains,” said Mr Holloway.

“But that’s not all, these chemicals can cause deformities, disrupt the growth of fish and even reduce their ability to reproduce, which I’m sure everyone will agree is both incredibly sad and extremely serious,” he added.

With the Healthy Waterways 2011 Ecosystem Health Report Card launching on Wednesday October 19, the ACWA wants to show residents of South East Queensland just how much they can each do to help protect the future of local waterways.

With South East Queensland’s population expected to grow from 2.92 million (ABS) to an expected 4.2 million by 2026, Mr Holloway is calling on other local councils to follow the lead of Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke and help do more to educate the community on this issue before it’s too late.

“We have to act fast and change the perceptions and washing habits of local residents now, before it’s too late,” said Mr Holloway. ”You can wash your car in an accredited commercial car wash for less than the cost of a cup of coffee so let’s all do our part to clean up our waterways.”
For information on where to find local environmentally friendly car washes, please visit www.wheretowashmycar.com.au .

Media enquiries:

Lachlan Crutchfield
Ph: 07 3488 6007 or 0417 477 696