​​What is the River-Friendly Carwash Program?

The program was developed by the Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership to help facilitate successful fundraiser carwashes while protecting local creeks and rivers from pollution that can be carried in wastewater from carwa​shing activities. 

The River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash Program​:

  • Provides community outreach and education about the potential harmful effects caused by wastewater discharge from traditional fundraiser carwashes
  • Promotes river-friendly carwashing solutions that help solve pollution problems while also supporting the activities of fundraising groups
  • Connects fundraising groups with River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash Partners that can help them hold River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwashes, and
  • Helps keep our creeks and rivers healthy and pollution free!

Please Note:

The River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash program is limited to businesses located within the boundaries of Sacramento County and its incorporated cities due to funding constraints. However, we value the support and dedication of any business in preventing stormwater pollution. Therefore, businesses which are outside our jurisdictional boundaries that are eligible to participate in our program may apply for special courtesy listing as an "Out Of County Program Affiliate."​​

Frequently Asked Questions

Fundraiser carwash activities are not prohibited. However, discharges of wastewater and/or other pollutants associated with fundraiser carwashes to the storm drain system are prohibited by state and local regulations that do not allow discharges of pollutants to the storm drain system.

Therefore, fundraiser carwash activities must be conducted in a manner that prevents pollutant discharges to the storm drain system.​

A River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash is one that prevents wastewater discharges to the storm drain system and therefore doesn’t contribute to pollution in our community’s creeks, rivers and waterways.

A River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash keeps wastewater out of the storm drain system by diverting the wastewater to the sanitary sewer system or to a landscaped area where it will not pollute our creeks, rivers and waterways. It’s that simple!​​​

Fundraiser carwashes can pollute our creeks and rivers because the soapy wastewater from a carwash—often carrying dirt, grease, detergents, and other pollutants—typically flows along a parking lot or other paved surface into the storm drain system. From there, it flows untreated to our creeks and rivers where it can harm fish and other aquatic life.

All by itself, your carwash may not seem to be contributing much pollution to our local waterways. But collectively, wastewater from fundraiser carwashes throughout the community can contribute significant amounts of harmful pollutants to our creeks and rivers.​​​

The storm drain system exists to prevent localized flooding by directly transporting excess stormwater runoff (rain that doesn’t soak into the ground) and irrigation water from neighborhoods and streets to local creeks and rivers.

The storm drain system includes underground pipes, as well as surface features such as drain inlets, streets, gutters, roadside ditches, and detention basins. Virtually all outdoor drains lead to the storm drain system!

The water entering the storm drain system is not treated to remove pollutants. Stormwater flows through the storm drain system to our local waterways. Any pollutants that enter the storm drain system end up in our creeks and rivers where they can harm the environment.

In contrast, the sanitary sewer system is designed to carry wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial sources to a treatment plant where pollutants are removed before treated water is discharged.

​Commercial carwash facilities dispose of their wastewater to the sanitary sewer system—that’s why we encourage fundraising groups to consider partnering with a commercial carwash for their fundraising events!