Aurora: Middle school students project promotes fish-friendly car washing

A picture named carwashfacts

Here’s the release from the Federal Way News:

Federal Way’s Fish Friendly Car Wash Program has long served as a model for other local communities. But earlier this year, the City was surprised to learn that the program’s reach had extended several states away.

With help from the City’s water quality specialist Hollie Shilley, fourth-graders at Indian Ridge Elementary in Aurora, Colo., are poised to receive national attention for their efforts to educate people on the negative impact that car washing can have on natural waterways.

The students knew that residential car washing—and charity car wash events in particular—often sends large volumes of waste wash water down storm drains, creating one of the biggest sources of surface water pollution. In April, they took these ideas and developed them into an entry for Project Citizen, an education program sponsored by the Center for Civic Education and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

An Internet search for background information brought up Federal Way’s program and Shilley’s name.

Shilley was excited to help. She explained that car wash kits divert wash water from the storm drain into the sanitary sewer, and she provided step-by-step photo instructions and a video about how to set up and use the kit. She also helped the students locate a source for the kits and shared examples of Federal Way’s educational materials.

The students embraced the idea of implementing a similar program in their own community and brainstormed other creative ways to make a difference.

They asked Colorado legislators for an official state day to recognize the role of commercial car washes in preventing stormwater pollution and developed an accompanying slogan, “Don’t wash our future down the drain!”

They also created an educational brochure, surveyed local car dealerships to learn about their carwashing practices, and wrote to the CEO of Subaru, asking that a commercial showing a couple washing a car in their driveway be remade to portray more environmentally friendly actions.

In May, they presented their project at the Project Citizen event in Denver. They ended up winning the top prize and will represent Colorado at the National Project Citizen Showcase later this month in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I am proud to have been able to help the students at Indian Ridge Elementary,” Shilley said. “It’s great when young kids get rewarded for their hard work and determination, and I hope it will encourage them to keep working to make a difference in their community and watershed. We congratulate them wish them the best of luck at the national event.”

More stormwater coverage here.

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