Everyday Opportunities

Water Quality District Offers FREE 'Clean Suds' Car Wash Kit

Summer is here and with the beautiful weather comes car wash fundraisers for our favorite schools, nonprofits and volunteer groups.  But have you ever thought about where that soapy, dirty water goes?

Car wash water contains detergent, motor oil, gasoline, dirt and debris from roads and other pollutants that wash into our storm drains! These storm drains infiltrate into our aquifer or flow directly into our rivers. 

The 'Clean Suds' Car Wash Kit can be borrowed for FREE by car wash organizers to cover and seal nearby storm drains and collect and dispose of dirty wash water to help protect our water quality!  Please contact the Missoula Valley Water Quality District for more information at (406) 258-4890.

Schedule a Field Trip to a Storm Water Facility

Learn about Missoula's largest Hydrodynamic Separator (HDS). Under the pavers in Caras Park this HDS sits 22ft deep, spinning downtown Missoula's runoff into a vortex. Learn how seasonal weather increases the HDS' speed with the volume of water, pulling oil, sediment, and trash to the deeper part of the chamber, allowing clean water to rise up and flow to the outlet next to Brennan's Wave.

Want to see density and particulate floatables in action? Walk next to Pattee Creek Desiltation Facility and learn how it detains floodwater and clears Pattee Creek from sediments harmful to Missoula's aquatic habitats.

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Know a trail or park with an unpleasant amount of dog waste? It's not just your shoes you have to worry about. A day's waste from one large dog can contain 7.8 billion fecal coliform bacteria and can cause human diseases like Giardia and Salmonella. If left on the ground these bacteria flow with runoff and enter our rivers and streams. Too much dog waste can lead to algae blooms and contaminated waterways. Help keep Missoula's rivers and streams clean by scheduling a Dog Waste Pick-up day at your favorite public place.

Out for walk and see some trash? By carrying a trash bag in your backpack you can combat one of the world's largest problems. That tiny piece of plastic you pick up in the park has a far reaching effect. Picking up trash here in Missoula helps other communities and international efforts, reducing the amount they have to clean-up and improving their ability to restore aquatic ecosystems. Join our positive and active Parks and Recreation Community, working to clean up Missoula public places.

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Plant a Vegetation Buffer Around Your Property

Private properties are a main source of the nutrient and sediment pollution entering Missoula's storm inlets, streams, and rivers. By planting trees, shrubs, and other nutrient-loving plants along your property you create a natural buffer that will soak up extra chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus left over from your home and lawn. Learn more about the problem and responsible lawn and garden care. This nutrient-rich material remains useful. Come Autumn, dead leaves from your property's plants are often more nutrient-rich than manure, making them great to use in personal compost bins or to drop off at Garden City Compost.

Maintain & Wash Your Car

By keeping a well-maintained vehicle you're minimizing the amount of oil you spread around Missoula streets. These types of petroleum leaks are the most common illicit discharge. See below for the complaint types reported to the IDDE Program. Graph showing Missoula’s Illicit Discharge Complaints by Year, with Petroleum leaks from cars bei Opens in new window

Washing your car frees it of pollutants like oil, fine particles, and sediment. If you can, use a commercial car wash, which often reuse wash water before sending it to a treatment plant. If washing a car at home only use as much water and biodegradable soap as you need. Try washing where the water will drain into gravel or grass, which can help filter the wash water before it gets into the aquifer, storm inlets, rivers, or streams. Learn more from the EPA.

The Missoula Valley Water Quality District (MVWQD), a division within the Missoula City-County Health Department, responds to illicit discharges.

If you would like to report an illicit discharge or have a stormwater construction site concern you may use the online reporting form or call 406-258-4890 during regular business hours or for an after-hours matter, please call 911.