The short answer to this question is “yes”, but with a caveat: You’ll need to use a city-approved interceptor system to filter out grease and dirt before the water enters the stormwater drainage system if you want to be in compliance with the law. Without this compliance, you could end up facing serious fines from the city, and might be a factor to consider when you weigh the pros and cons of Calgary

Most of us don’t think about where the runoff water from our driveway or garage pad ends up, but in reality, it is almost always directed toward the city’s drainage system. With approximately 60,000 storm drains spread throughout the city, Calgary has set regulations and bylaws to keep its stormwater management system functioning properly. This vast network of pipes and ponds removes stormwater (or any water) from the streets and into the nearby rivers. The system ensures that flooding during heavy rain and snowfall doesn’t occur. 

TNA Concrete - Calgary - Car Wash Driveway

Drainage Bylaw 37M2005 and how it applies to washing your car

Since the water flowing into the stormwater management system (and yes, that includes water runoff from your driveway as you wash your car) ends up in nearby rivers, the drainage bylaw was created to keep greasy substances and debris out of the system to avoid blockage. The top concrete contractors in Calgary know this and factor it in with their professional work. 

The law is also written to ensure that chemicals and other harmful substances aren’t introduced to the nearby plant and animal life of our city’s rivers. 

Here are a few factors in the bylaw that could affect your car-washing routine: 

  • Soap, odorous materials, greases, and waste cannot be introduced to the Calgary stormwater drainage system. Since washing your car will inevitably involve soap, you’ll obviously introduce this element to the drainage system. This is against the city’s ordinance and can end up costing you a fine of up to $3,000 for the first offense.
  • While the bylaw doesn’t explicitly state that it’s illegal to wash your car in your driveway or garage pad in Calgary, even with a filter over the drainage grate closest to you, you won’t be able to filter out soap. This means that if you do wash your car in your driveway, you’ll need to do it without soap. Another way to circumvent this stipulation is to channel the water to the wastewater drain in your basement, such as would be required if you are emptying your swimming pool. 
  • Although using a City-approved filter will not remove soap from the runoff water, it will remove the grease and dirt before it enters the drainage system, so you’ll still need to have one.
  • The bylaw stipulates that the following substances cannot be introduced into storm drains: 
      • Soil, sediment, or other solid matter (including yard waste such as leaves and grass clippings)
      • Cooking oils and grease
      • Gasoline, motor oil, transmission fluid, and antifreeze
      • Solvents and paints
      • Water from pools and hot tubs
      • Industrial waste

Considering these limitations and restrictions based on Calgary’s regulatory code, if your car needs to be washed, it’s probably easier to take it to a commercial car wash rather than your driveway or garage pad. Add this one inconvenience to your list of the pros and cons of Calgary. This will end up saving you money in the end, especially if the alternative includes risking fines from the city 

As one of the top concrete contractors in Calgary, we love helping our customers and potential customers with all of their concrete concerns. Contact us today for a free quote.