Canadian Municipalities - Regulations or Bylaws Related to Car Washes or to Waste Water

Halifax, Nova Scotia

3 - Prohibited Discharges to Wastewater Facilities

3(1) No person shall discharge, into wastewater facilities, sewage or wastewater which causes or may cause or results or may result in:

(a) a health or safety hazard;
(b) obstructions or restrictions to the flow in the wastewater facilities;
(c) an offensive odour to emanate from wastewater facilities, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, sewage containing hydrogen sulphide, mercaptans, carbon disulphide, other reduced sulphur compounds, amines, or ammonia in such quantity that may cause an offensive odour;
(d) damage to wastewater facilities;
(e) interference with the operation and maintenance of wastewater facilities.
(f) a restriction of the beneficial use of sludge from the municipality’s wastewater facilities.
(g) effluent from municipal wastewater facilities to be in violation of any Provincial or

Federal Acts or Regulations.

3(2) No person shall discharge, into wastewater facilities, sewage or wastewater with any one or more of the following characteristics:
(a) a pH less than 5.5 or greater than 9.5;
(b) two or more separate liquid layers;
(c) a temperature greater than sixty five degrees Celsius.
3(3) No person shall discharge, into wastewater facilities, sewage or wastewater containing one or more of the following:
(a) combustible liquid;
(b) fuel;
(c) hauled sewage, hauled wastewater or leachate, except where written permission from the municipality has been obtained;
(e) ignitable waste including but not limited to, flammable liquids, solids, and/or gases, capable of causing or contributing to explosion or supporting combustion in wastewater facilities;
By-Law W-101 Respecting Discharge into Public Sewers - June 20, 2001
(f) detergents, surface–active agents or other substances that may cause excessive foaming in the wastewater facilities;
(g) sewage containing dyes or colouring materials which pass through wastewater facilities and discolour the wastewater facility or effluent;
(h) pathological waste in any quantity;
(i) material containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs);
(j) pesticides;
(k) reactive materials;
(l) radioactive substances;
(m) leachate, except where the discharger has written permission from the municipality.

London, Ontario

Sewers and Wastewater

Storm sewers and catchbasins collect water outside and drain directly into the nearest creek, river or lake. This water is not treated, so it is important to not put waste such as animal waste, automotive fluids, garbage, and chemicals down a catchbasin.

When you wash your car on your driveway or the street, the soapy, dirty water runs into our creeks and river. To avoid having dirty water run into our storm sewer system, consider these options for washing your car:

  • Use a commercial car wash facility. These facilities treat wastewater and discharge it into the sanitary sewer system where it will receive further treatment. Commercial car washes are regulated to practice water conservation. Washing your car at home can use as much as 50 percent more water.
  • Find a location where the wastewater won’t flow into the storm sewer. For example, washing cars on a gravel surface or grass allows the wastewater to be absorbed before it reaches the storm sewer.

Toronto, Ontario

Washing Cars & Outdoors Surfaces

No substances other than rain and melted snow can be poured or allowed to flow into an outdoor catch basin (square grates on the street). This includes:

  • oils and grease soaps and other cleaning products
  • water leaking from a waste/oil bin
  • any water used for cleaning (e.g. mop water)
  • solid materials (e.g. cigarette butts, tissues, wrappers, etc.)
  • Anything other than rain or melted snow that enters a catch basin is considered a spill and can cause damage to the sewer system, pollute the environment and harm aquatic habitat. If you suspect a spill, please contact 311 immediately.

Calgary, Alberta

Bylaws related to residential car washing

Can I wash my car on the street?

  • Under the Stormwater Bylaw 37M2005, you may use only water to clean your car. If you are washing your car on the street, you must not use any kind of soap or any product other than water, and your car must not be overly dirty.
  • Since the Stormwater Bylaw states that only water may enter the storm sewers, we strongly suggest using a carwash to wash vehicles.

What is the fine for washing my car with soap on the street?

  • The specified fine for violating this section of the bylaw is $500 for a first offence.

Can I use biodegradable soap to wash my car on the street?

  • No. All soaps and detergents are prohibited substances under the Stormwater Bylaw. Only plain water can be used to wash vehicles.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Washing or Repairing Vehicles

68. No person shall stand or park any vehicle on any street for the purpose of washing, greasing or repairing such vehicle except repairs necessitated by an emergency.

68A. No person shall:

(a) wash or grease any vehicle on any street; or
(b) repair any vehicle on any street, except for repairs necessitated by an emergency.

Contact Us: 

Canadian Carwash Association, 3228 South Service Road, Suite 109, Burlington, ON L7N 3H8

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