Drought Watch: Car Washing With As Little As A Cup of Water?

Car wash businesses depend very heavily on water. But, because of the drought, they've had to cut back on water use just like the rest of us.

Some traditional car washes have installed restricted-flow water jets and are using reclaimed water to cut cost and conserve.

In Van Nuys, The Great American Car Wash uses a pre-rinse of reclaimed water before cleaning a car with fresh, clean water. It's been tough cutting back according to manager Abel Pineda.

He says, "It's very frustrating. Very frustrating because we only have limited water to spend. We are using less water now." As for cutting more, he says, "It's tough. It's tough. We only can do so much."

The sign on his car wash reads $9.99 per wash. That's much cheaper than the custom hand detailed jobs they used to do. That's been cut back, he says, because the custom jobs use a lot of water.

Despite that he's seen an uptick in business. First, of all, there are customers not wanting to use their own water like Richard Dagres. He told us "the problem with doing it yourself at home, you actually waste more water because you're not as efficient as they are because they recycle their water."

They claim they use about 10 gallons per car. There are estimates that some people use between 5 and 10 times more than that in their home driveways.

But, in the lower level of the Saks 5th Avenue parking structure in Beverly Hills a team of car washers are using water in an entirely different way and much less of it.

They use less than a bucket of water to wash several cars. Less than a cup per car. That's because they are using a commercially available plant-based spray to clean and polish. You can learn more about that on their website www.vgautoclean.com. In their case, the water is used to pick up the dirt that the spray loosens. The father-son team of Vernell and Aubrey Williams got a real taste of the drought when they met with officials of the company that make the spray back in May.

Till then, both men had no idea how bad the drought was. Vernell says, "No I didn't. I kinda thought it wasn't as bad as it was." Aubrey had the same feeling. He says, "I didn't really believe it. What triggered me was actually seeing it like going up north and seeing a reservoir and we just went fishing and saw how low the lake was. It was a big shocker for me."

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