The cheerleading squad at Lincoln High School in San Jose wanted to attend a national competition in April. In order to finance the trip, the squad decided to host a car wash.
This plan never materialized, however. The San Jose Environmental Services Department shut down the group’s car wash to “protect the environment.”
According to the environmental officials, the cheerleaders violated city water discharge laws.
On Oct. 18th this message was sent out to San Jose neighborhood e-mail lists:
“We had a visit from the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department who said that the car washes at Hoover [Middle School] are in violation of water discharge laws, therefore we had to cancel this and all future car washes.”
Jennie Loft, a spokesperson for the San Jose Environmental Services Department, said, “Anything that is not storm water or rain water is considered a pollutant. If it goes into a storm drain, that pollutant will harm wildlife and habitats in the creeks. Water goes directly from the storm drains into our creeks.”
The Department gave advice on how to have legal car washes.
The Mercury reported, “Conduct car washing over gravel, grassy area, or other earthen areas if possible… Ensure that wash water (soapy or not) does not run into a street, gutter, or storm drain… Wash water from paved areas should be collected and diverted either into the sanitary sewer system or a landscaped area… Use different methods to protect the storm drain system… Ensure no soap stains remain on the ground.”
The rules do not just apply to groups attempting to hold car washes — they also apply to individuals who want to clean their cars.
Loft said, “What most people should do if washing their cars at home is park it on the lawn so the water is diverted into landscape. Or go to a designated neighborhood car wash, so it doesn’t go into the storm drain.”
The Lincoln High cheer squad is still trying to raise funds to attend the national competition.
Do you think these environmental laws are justified? Tell us in the comments section below.