From Boy Scout troops to sorority houses, many a group of would-be do-gooders have embraced the charity car wash. But in Arlington, Virginia, the possibility is no more. There, regulators are cracking down on car washes as part of a plan to limit water pollution.
Kim Coble, vice president of environmental protection and restoration for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, told The Washington Post:
"If it was one carwash, we wouldn't be having a conversation. But for every school group in every school in the entire watershed, that is thousands and thousands of carwashes, and it really is considered a problem."
The silliness stems from statewide stormwater permit rules, which were recently tightened under pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. From the Post:
Virginia and other states use permitting programs to mitigate the pollution flowing with stormwater into streams and rivers. Local governments, and some school districts, outline their plans for limiting pollution in their permit applications, which must be approved by the state.
The stormwater permits recently became more stringent, in response to Chesapeake Bay clean up requirements that affect the surrounding six states and the District of Columbia. Arlington was the first jurisdiction in Virginia to renew its permit under the tougher regulations last summer, and Arlington Public Schools was granted its own permit for the first time this spring.
Arlington may be the first of its neighbors to do so, but it seems all of Virginia and the surrounding six states face the same new environmental clean up requirements. Boy Scouts up and down the east coast may want to start plotting out other forms of funding field trips now.
I'm not quite sure how individuals coming together in one place to wash cars differs significantly, pollution wise, from folks individually washing cars at home. But perhaps we could just ban all car washing next.