Impacts of Vehicle Washing on Storm Water

  • Published
  • By Cody Koontz
  • 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Compliance Office
Malmstrom is able to discharge storm water into the nearby Missouri River by operating under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit under the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

With this permit, Malmstrom has implemented various pollution prevention techniques.

Anything that goes into a storm drain on base ends up going to the Missouri River, untreated.

As such, washing a vehicle in the street, a parking lot or anywhere that isn’t a designated car wash is not allowed on Malmstrom and is punishable by a fine.

It is imperative to take all vehicles, personal or government-owned, to a designated car wash.
Although some car soaps are advertised as biodegradable, the soap still transports vehicle fluids and sediment.

The vehicle fluids and sediment can cause line blockages and impact the biology in the waterways. This impact is equivalent to directly polluting a fishing spot.

The car washes on and off base are designed to handle the dirt, grease and oil that come off a vehicle.

These units also discharge the water to the sanitary sewer system which is then treated by the City of Great Falls before reaching the river.

Curious what else Malmstrom is doing to curb storm water pollution? View Malmstrom’s Storm Water Management Plan, updated every year, located on the Environmental Resources under the About Us tab on the base website.

For more information, comments or questions on how Malmstrom controls storm water pollution, contact Cody Koontz at (406) 731-6155 or