I would like to share some comments from a story along with an
editorial cartoon, but first I want to talk about rain runoff from
streets, driveways, parking lots, yards and roofs — also known as
Stormwater is considered the greatest pollution threat to Puget
Sound, according to studies by the Washington Department of
Ecology. Of course, it is not the rain itself that causes the
problem. It is what gets picked up along the way: chemicals,
pesticides, fertilizers, bacteria … The list goes on.
Cameron Coleman finishes up an oil
change on a car at Hockett & Olsen Automotive on Bainbridge
Island, where car owners can obtain a free oil-leak
Kitsap Sun photo by Meegan Reid
Among the toxic chemicals, one of the biggest problems appears
to be motor oil from vehicles. Oil leaks out of cars as they are
moving down the road or while they are parked, then the rains wash
the pollution into the nearest ditch and eventually into Puget
Sound. By some estimates, that amounts to 7 million quarts of oil
Fortunately, not all the oil goes into the water. In Kitsap
County, for example, city and county street sweepers are driving
around, picking up some of the oil and other chemicals along with
soil particles on the roads. It is a proven effort to reduce
It would be better still if the oil didn’t get on the roads or
parking lots in the first place. But how do you get people to fix
the oil leaks in their cars?
An organization of local governments throughout the Puget Sound
region is hoping that awareness will provide one answer. More than
80 service shops in the region have agreed to check for oil leaks
at no cost or obligation to anyone. See my story in last
Tuesday’s Kitsap Sun.
It’s a pilot program with the clever title “Don’t Drip and
Drive.” It will run through April. The cost to the government is
the cost of advertising on the radio. A federal stormwater permit
issued to local governments throughout the region already requires
that they try to educate the public. Maybe this campaign will work;
maybe it won’t. I’ll report on the results after the program is
It seems like a simple approach to the problem. Even if people
know their cars are leaking, this program encourages them to think
about solutions. Why not get a free estimate to see what it would
cost to fix the leak? Maybe it won’t cost much. Maybe a few people
will find a way to address the problem sooner rather than later.
Maybe it will reduce wear on their vehicles.
If people become informed and are offered a free, no-obligations
solution, will it make a difference? I hope it does, because it
avoids the more heavy-handed ideas, such as requiring vehicle
inspections to obtain a car license.
If you read some of the comments at the end of the story,
however, you might think this pilot program is intruding into
people’s personal lives, not just asking them to check for oil
leaks. I realize that the comments section can be a dark place,
occupied by people who see a full glass as empty. But it is amusing
to see what bothers some people.
Here are the first few comments:
“I would guess that 99% of drivers park their vehicle in the
same spot in their driveway or garage every night. Do we need a
government program so they won’t have to look at that spot to see
if oil has dropped there?”
“I agree! Government is way outside of what they are
supposed to be. This is ridiculous and out of control.”
“Yep so they find a leak and what’s next??? Big time repair
bill and just in time to keep your wallet empty! Nice program! Big
goverment (sic) get out of my life will you???”
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’d like to
share with you an editorial cartoon by Milt Priggee published in
Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.
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