Calgary

Driveway car washers face $3,000 fine

Washing a vehicle at home with soap — even the biodegradable kind — can result in a $3,000 fine, the city's bylaw director is reminding Calgarians.

Washing a vehicle at home with soap — even the biodegradable kind — can result in a $3,000 fine, the city's bylaw director is reminding Calgarians.

Surveys conducted by the city show more than half of city residents are not aware of the rules dealing with vehicle washing at home.

"If you're washing your car on the street you can only use clear water. Make sure you're not washing any oil material off your car into the storm and no soap allowed," said Bill Bruce, director of the city's bylaw services.

"All of our storm drain system enters into the Bow and Elbow Rivers without going through a treatment plant, so we need to make sure that the water draining into it is clean."

The fine for a first offence is set at $3,000 under the city's drainage bylaws. However, Bruce said most people caught washing their car with soap at home are newcomers to the city and get only a warning. About a dozen such charges are laid a year, usually for someone intentionally dumping material down the storm drain.

Bruce recommends washing vehicles at a car wash because the run-off goes into the sewer system where it will be treated and most of those facilities recycle their water.

"We're not wasting water by just using it once for washing cars," he said.