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New Federal Law Puts Restrictions On Community Car Wash Fundraisers

College students are paying their way through school by working at a student-owned car wash.

The laws don’t help community fundraisers, but they may present an opportunity to car wash businesses.

Not long ago, nobody would’ve believed the Boy Scouts or little league car wash fundraiser would become the target of federal regulations — but it is.

It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not completely. The goal is to prevent the illicit dumping of chemicals. So now, cities across the country are bringing the local codes into compliance with new rules in the Clean Water Act. From now on, anybody who wants to organize a car wash will have to do it somewhere that’s either far away from drains (the middle of the desert?) or near a facility that recycles the wastewater.

Like the car wash.

According to the Appeal-Democrat in Marysville, California, county leaders are shutting down the Scouts. “The first step will be to start a public education program,” a county engineer told the paper. “What we will do is reach out to gas stations, churches and organizations that typically will allow car washes at their facilities.”

This could be good news for car wash businesses. If there wasn’t incentive enough to work together with community organizations, this is the perfect opportunity. There are precedents for it. Autobell, the North Carolina chain, has a program that prints coupons with the organizations’ names on them, which the organizations can sell and keep 50 percent of the proceeds. It takes a bit of the soapy fun out of the fundraisers, but they’re extremely effective. Autobell had helped raise $740,000 for charity as of February.

The charities bring a good message and mission, and car washes bring a useful service and marketing resources. It’s a good mix, and now is a good opportunity to explore those kinds of partnerships.

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