Car Wash Fundraiser

During a car wash, dirty water containing soap and detergents, residues from exhaust fumes, gasoline and motor oils washes off the cars, flows off the pavement and into nearby storm drains. Unlike the water we use in our homes and businesses which is treated at wastewater treatment plants, the water that goes into storm drains flows directly into local ponds and river without any kind of treatment.

Alone, one car wash fundraiser event will create little, adverse environmental impact. But, collectively, car wash fundraiser events contribute significant amounts of water pollution.

The City of Brighton Stormwater Division offers a program to promote fish-friendly car washing. All community groups that wish to host a car wash will be provided with special equipment that will keep sudsy, greasy, dirty water out of the storm drains and keep these pollutants from entering our local ponds and river. This program also helps promote water
conservation by using a hose nozzle to prevent water from being wasted. Washing without a nozzle is a common practice in individual car washing and can use up to 119 gallons of water for one wash.

Get the Carwash Kit
  • The kit is free for loan at City of Brighton Utilities Department located at 500 S 4th Ave - 4th Floor,  Brighton CO 80601. 
  • View the kit instructions below. 
  • Certain conditions apply: sites must have a sump-style catch basin (storm drain), electricity and either a grassy/landscaped area or sanitary outlet in which to drain the dirty water. 
  • Call to arrange pick-up at least 5 days in advance: 303-655-2121.

We also suggest that you follow the "Good Housekeeping Practices" listed below for an environmentally successful
car wash fundraising event. Using these practices, you will meet two equally important goals:

(1) Raise a great deal of money for your organization and, (2) Minimize the amount of soapy wash water that enters any storm drain.

  • Good Housekeeping Practice #1: Get your environmentally friendly carwash kit, which includes a catch basin insert, pump, hoses and extension cords from the City of Brighton Stormwater Division by calling at 303-655-2121.
  • Good Housekeeping Practice #2: Before beginning your car wash, remove all trash and debris from the car washing area.
  • Good Housekeeping Practice #3: Use only soaps, cleaners, or detergents labeled "nontoxic", "phosphate free", or "biodegradable". The safest products for the environment are vegetable-based or citrus-based soaps.
  • Good Housekeeping Practice #4: Avoid the use of acid-based wheel cleaners.
  • Good Housekeeping Practice #5: Minimize the amount of water or soapy wash water running off the car washing. Always shut off or kink the hoses when not in use. Whenever possible, select a site where the cars can be driven onto grass or gravel for washing. Or, select a site where wash water will drain onto grass, gravel, or landscaping, or into the sanitary sewer system. This will allow the soapy water to filter through vegetation and soil instead of flowing into a storm drain. Use a bucket of soapy water to re-soap rags or sponges throughout the wash rather than adding more soap directly to the rag/sponge. Do not empty buckets of soapy or rinse water into the parking lot, street, gutter, or storm drains. Always empty buckets into the sanitary sewer system (e.g. sinks or toilets).
  • Other recommendations for pollution prevention:
    If you choose a site that drains into a street, block off the storm drain with sandbags or wet towels and divert the dirty water, onto grass, gravel or an area where the water can pool and evaporate throughout the day. Contact the City for assistance to block off storm drains. Clean up the site after the event. Have volunteers walk the perimeter of the site location picking up any trash and debris and dispose of it properly. Shake car mats into a trash can or vacuum them off. Do not shake dirt from car mats directly onto the ground.

Be Fish-Friendly at Home
If you are washing your car at home, please use these tips to help protect our local water quality:

Wash your car over the lawn--give your lawn a drink and the soil will help filter soap and grease
• Use biodegradable, ammonia-free soap
• Avoid harsh chemical products such as chrome cleaners and degreasers (visit a commercial car wash for detailing work, if possible)
• Empty dirty wash water onto the lawn or into a sink or tub (so the water will go to the sanitary treatment plant)
• Sweep your driveway instead of hosing it off (this helps keep dirt and pollutants from being washed into our creeks)

Carwash Kit Contents 
Storm drain insert: a plastic tub that is inserted into the storm drain after the grate is removed. The pump is placed inside the drain insert. The soapy water is then pumped out through the attached hose. The tub insert needs to fit the size of the open storm drain.

• Pump: (Small 1/40 horsepower submersible sump pump).
• GFCI adapter plug - Ground-Fault Circuit Interruptor (Class A).
• 100 foot hose, to connect pump to sink, toilet or landscape area (away from storm drains)
• 100 foot electrical cord (electrical extension cord).
• 1 grate puller/hook – caution, the grate is heavy.
• 2 orange safety road cones to go around the open grate.
• Traffic vests for safety
• 1 carry bag to put all kit items in for storage.

How to use the carwash kit
• Locate the nearest storm drain where the water from the carwash will drain, electrical plug in and sink, toilet or landscape area.
• Put on your traffic vests.
• Set up your road cones in the street next to your storm drain.
• Pull up the storm drain grate using a metal hook. Caution: the grate will be very heavy. Avoid injury.
• Place the tub in the catch basin after the grate is removed. Make sure the safety road cones are around this opening to prevent someone from falling or driving into the drain.
• Attach the hose to the pump.
• Attach the electrical cord to the pump cord. Put it in the tub.
• The directions with the pump will tell you when to plug it in.
• Place the other end of the hose into the nearest toilet, sink, floor drain or landscape area.

Where to buy a car wash kit
These businesses sell car wash kits. (The City of Brighton does not recommend or endorse these suppliers or their products)
• Bowhead Environmental & Safety, LLC
1420 NW Gilman Boulevard, #2145
Issaquah, WA 98027
1-800-909-3677 Fax: 888-234-3677
• EDN Company
World Wide Environmental Distribution Network