Every drop counts: Preventing vehicle fluid leaks is a step toward clean water

Every year Washington drivers leak seven million quarts of motor oil into the Puget Sound Basin.

Ken Clark

Every year Washington drivers leak seven million quarts of motor oil into the Puget Sound Basin.

This isn’t done on purpose, but is the effect of drips and leaks from our vehicles running into storm drains. It’s easy to overlook a leak and simply top off the oil, coolant or other leaking fluids. But while some fluids run into retention ponds and get absorbed into the ground instead of flooding into the ocean, many leaks occur at locations where rainwater and fluids run directly into the ocean.

The Don’t Drip and Drive campaign educates drivers about the importance of checking for leaks and what happens to fluid that drips onto the roads.

Many auto shops, including my own, Sparks Car Care, participate in the campaign by providing free leak inspections and discounted leak repairs.

Not only does repairing leaks protect the environment, there are also practical benefits for vehicle owners. These include saving money; if your car isn’t leaking, you won’t have to constantly top off your oil, coolant, or other fluids, which is money in the bank. It can also prevent more expensive repairs on the car’s systems that can result from running out of particular fluids.

For more information on the Don’t Drip and Drive campaign, to learn more about diagnosing your car’s leak or to find a participating auto shop near you, visit www.fixcarleaks.org.

Pollution comes from more than just vehicles. Several other programs and organizations have formed to help educate us on keeping our ocean clean and unpolluted.

The EnviroStars Program certifies businesses, with the approval of the Department of Ecology, as environmentally friendly. Its mission is to provide assistance and incentives to smaller businesses interested in reducing hazardous materials and waste. The EnviroStars logo is a sign to customers that a specific business is dedicated to protecting the environment, and by giving it your patronage, you too are supporting environmental protection.

EnviroStars was first created in King County in 1995, as a service of the local Hazardous Waste Management Program. This program has since been adopted in Jefferson, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Spokane and Whatcom counties. More than 700 businesses in the state have been certified by EnviroStars. For more information, visit www.envirostars.org/.

The Puget Sound Starts Here campaign connects more than 750 organizations across the 12 counties touching the Puget Sound in an effort to raise public awareness of pollution and solutions. The campaign hosts events throughout the Puget Sound area. For more information and a list of upcoming events, visit www.pugetsoundstartshere.org/.

The Stormwater Outreach for Regional Municipalities (STORM) organization is a coalition of city and county governments working to improve water quality in lakes, rivers, streams and the Puget Sound by keeping pollutants out of storm drains. The program bases outreach based on the Federal Clean Water Act, funded and facilitated by the Department of Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership.

Washington’s Stormwater Outreach for Regional Municipalities program launched both the Don’t Drip and Drive program and the Puget Sound Starts Here campaign. For more information, visit www.wastormwatercenter.org/storm.

I am constantly reminded that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. We enjoy an abundance of wildlife, scenic views and wonderful water ways. All of us can contribute to protecting our natural resources. Your vehicle is your responsibility, and so is preventing and fixing fluid leaks. Oil and other automotive fluids that leak from cars frequently end up in storm drains, and ultimately our ocean. Checking your vehicle regularly is a practical and simple step toward minimizing polluting impact on the region we call home.

Ken Clark is the owner of Sparks Car Care, Federal Way. He can be reached at 253-874-1070, www.facebook.com/sparkscc or sparkscc@comcast.net

 

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