City council members in Toppenish, Wash., this week were set to discuss possible restrictions on charity carwashes. The mayor and city manager brought the issue to the city council recently after they said some carwash owners complained that carwash fundraisers were harmful to the environment and negatively impacted their businesses, according to a report by the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Because commercial carwashes must be licensed, follow regulations and pay taxes, city officials are examining whether or not restrictions or permitting should be applied to carwash fundraisers.
"I'm not against somebody trying to raise funds, but everyone should have to follow the same rules," Mayor Blaine Thorington told the newspaper.
Churches, schools and other organizations rely on charity carwashes to raise needed funds, but there is suspicion that some local fundraisers are held for personal gain, the article said.
Desert Suns Car Wash owner Gary Walker said he didn’t have a problem with kids holding carwash fundraisers because they were mostly supported by friends and family.
City officials said they will examine how other municipalities are regulating non-commercial carwashes. Many municipalities across America have begun to examine charity carwashes and residential carwashing, more from environmental concerns than business competition.
Officials in Federal Way, Wash., made headlines last year when the city published a report showing the ill effects residents have when they wash their cars on impervious surfaces without properly disposing wastewater. Officials measured the pollutants created by five weekend charity carwash events held in 2007 and 2008 and then estimated the annual amount of residential carwashing that occurs in the city.
Federal Way officials estimated that 190 gallons of gasoline, diesel and motor oil; 400 pounds of phosphorous and nitrogen; 60 pounds of ammonia; 2,200 pounds of surfactants and nearly 34,000 pounds of dissolved and suspended solid wastes are deposited annually into the city's storm water drainage system as a direct result from residential carwashing.
Many commercial carwashes offer fundraising programs to local organizations to assist them raise money through carwashing in an environmentally responsible manner.