Old carwash rule brings new ire
By NIKKI WILEY The Brunswick News
Mobile car washes in the city of Brunswick could find themselves in violation of a storm drain ordinance if the proper equipment isn't used.
The city's storm drain ordinance prohibits pollutants from entering drains that lead to waterways, including dirt and oils washed off automobiles during a routine car wash.
While the ordinance is not new, the issue came to light recently when some mobile car washes attempted to renew business licenses. Businesses must be in compliance with Georgia Environmental Protection Department standards in order to receive a license renewal.
The ordinance is in line with Georgia's storm drain regulations and is intended to prevent harmful substances from making their way into Georgia's waterways.
But the ordinance doesn't just impact commercial car wash facilities. Nonprofit organizations that hold car wash fundraisers within the city are subject to the same rules.
"The problem we have is the storm water ordinance doesn't say unless you're a charitable organization," said Dan McFee, city engineer. "It says that nothing but storm water can go into the storm drain, and if you're out in front of Target or Lowe's and you do a car wash ... all the dirt, oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, break fluid, salt, grime that comes off of your car is washed off into the storm drains and ends up in our streams."
Organizations that aren't in compliance with the ordinance could face a fine.
"They need to have the minimum stuff that it takes in the way of equipment in order to be able to do one legally," McFee said.
Businesses and organizations can purchase car wash mats that contain runoff, preventing hazardous materials from ending up in the wrong place. Mats run between $400 and $1,000.
Gary Cook is a Brunswick resident who owns a mobile car wash company. He says the rules could be a hindrance to his business.
"It's a serious problem," Cook said. "I've been doing this for almost 30 years."