Colorado State University Facilities Management Encourages Steps to Protect Water Quality

The warm weather is a great time to fix cars and prepare them for the upcoming cold weather. However, Colorado State University Facilities Management water quality and conservation experts suggest that care be taken to be environmentally friendly when washing and working on cars to prevent contaminants from reaching the Cache la Poudre River.

Every year thousands of gallons of water from storms and snowmelt enter the storm drains of Fort Collins, and numerous contaminants and pollutants such as pesticides, oils, metals, sediment and pet waste are picked up and carried into the Poudre River. Storm drains are set up to divert excess water and flow directly into the Poudre River, rather than divert water into treatment plants, so it is important to keep the water clean.

Fort Collins residents can significantly protect the Cache La Poudre River. One place to start is right in your own driveway.

–     Wash cars on grass or gravel. Soap contains phosphates and other chemicals that harm fish and impact water quality. Use a bucket of soapy water and only use the hose for a final rinse. Dump dirty, used water down the sink, not in the street – or wash cars in a car wash, where wastewater is treated and recycled.

–     When changing engine oil, remember that oil does not dissolve in water, and it sticks to everything. Use pans to keep fluids off the driveway. Clean up spills quickly and collect used oil in bottles with tight-fitting lids. Never pour oil or engine fluid down a storm drain, onto the ground or into a trash can. Many auto supply stores will take used oil. To find an automotive recycler, visit