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Ban on home carwashing?

• Newhall water district ponders banning washing of vehicle in driveway

Posted: June 25, 2008 12:59 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.

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If you're thinking of washing your car at home you better do it soon, and when you do, you better have the garden hose fitted with a shutoff nozzle.

The Newhall County Water District is expected this month to revisit the county ordinance regarding driveway car washing in response to the governor's recently proclaimed statewide drought, said the
district's General Manager Steve Cole.

"We're going to be looking at that specific ordinance," Cole told The Signal on Tuesday. "The board has asked that we look at that specific conservation issue, so we're going to start from a basic common sense interpretation of the ordinance, looking at things like not watering your lawn at certain periods of the day.

"But, as the drought progresses, we'll be getting to the point where you're not going to be using water to do much of anything."

On June 4, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought, calling on local agencies to promote water conservation.

"We have an ordinance that gets activated at different stages during drought conditions," Cole said.

As the drought deepens, he explained, water officials will ratchet-up ordinance rules.

The Newhall water meeting to address the car washing ordinance will probably take place mid-July, he added.

In the meantime, Randy Cressall, owner of Valencia Auto Spa and former president of the Western Carwash Association, is trying to get the word out that car washing at established commercial car wash operations which recycle water is a way to conserve water.

Citing statistics he says were purported by the Chicago-based International Carwash Association, Cressall said the number of car owners washing their vehicles at home has jumped to 69 percent this spring from 42 percent a year ago, largely due to people apparently wanting to save money during tough economic times.

According to the same association statistics, home car washers use 100 gallons of water per vehicle as opposed to car wash operations that use 20 to 25 gallons per vehicle with high-pressure low-flow nozzles.

Cressall said car wash operations such as his recycle water on-site two to seven times, purifying each time with ozone and ultraviolet light.

Commercial car wash operators require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems permit addressing effluent, whereas a car owner washing his vehicle requires no permit for detergents and chemicals ending up in the ecosystem.

Cressall is also worried that uninformed people would perceive professional car wash operations as water wasters and not water conservationists.

"Some people (who don't know about on-site recycling) perceive professional car washers as water wasters," he said. "We use a quarter to one fifth of the water home car washers use."

Cole gave recycling car wash businesses the thumbs up, but has some conservation advice for car owners trying to save money not going to them.

"If you do it responsibly, making sure you have a hose with a nozzle and a bucket to put the soap in, it pretty much comes down to common sense," he said.

"(Cressall) does have a point," he added. "The car washers have to recycle a pretty large part of the water they use."


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