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Eye On Olympia

Putting the “washing” back in Washington…

Despite what a USA Today headline said earlier this week, state environmental officials say, the state has not banned you from washing your car in the driveway.

The Department of Ecology says it "provided guidance" to cities and counties last week, warning about the problems caused by polluted runoff from streets.

USA Today did a story about the situation, headlined "No driveway carwashes, Wash. state says", saying that washing one's car in the driveway would soon be as endangered as some wild salmon. It quoted an irate Vancouver SUV owner vowing to wash his Highlander that very weekend in protest.

Responds the state: "Ecology said it would take a public education approach to proper car washing and it urged local governments to do the same and not issue tickets, fines or other penalties."

The agency says it's primarily worried about soapy water pouring into storm drains, which generally empty, untreated, into creeks and streams. It suggests washing the car over grass or any other surface where the water soaks into the ground. Or laying something on the ground to divert the soapy water from pouring into a storm drain.

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