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Environmental Issues

WATER RECLAIM: Seven things you need to know about this eco- and economically-friendly initiative.

August 09, 2011
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When you use reclaimed wash water in a wash process, you save on both the cost of the fresh water you aren’t using as well as on the sewer costs, which in some cases can cost up to three times as much, according to Charles Borchard, vice president of operations for the PurClean and PurWater divisions of New Wave Industries.

“This,” Borchard said, “is especially significant in sites with high pressure pump stations that use 30 or so gallons per minute, as it reduces your dependence on fresh water it will help reduce your operating costs.”

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By incorporating reclaim water into your facility, you can reduce the size of the fresh water supply and the meter size, according to Jim Keller, President of Con-Serv Manufacturing. “This will reduce the initial fees and monthly cost associated with purchasing water and sewer from the local municipal provider.”

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“Reclaim water costs less to use and operators don’t need to be stingy when applying it to their wash equipment … like in total fresh water systems,” Keller said.

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Keller also said to keep in mind that every gallon of water you can recover is a gallon you are not buying from the municipal provider and paying a higher rate to dispose of by the sewer authority.

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In some parts of the country, like California, Colorado, New York, and any other place where a more liberal agenda has taken root and green is the color of choice, you can attract customers to your wash by advertising that you are using recycled water, advised Borchard. “The tree huggers will flock to your wash and feel good about washing their hybrid vehicles with you.”

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Borchard said they have seen many sites that “tip down” (meaning they reduce the size of the orifice in the spray tip, thereby reducing the flow of water) at their washes to save water.

“You can do this only so far and then you start negatively impacting your wash quality,” he said. “We recently did a project with an experienced operator in the Midwest who had tipped down as far as he could and still deliver a quality vehicle. But, his costs kept rising and it was time to take a different tack.”

Borchard said that operator decided to remodel one of his sites; he added 30 feet of length to his wash and filled most of the extra space with high pressure equipment — nearly 150 GPM (gallons per minute) worth, because he obviously needed to use reclaim water for these pumps. He also chose to use reclaim water on his friction equipment as well as rinsing his new high-tech conveyor.

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According to Tracy Smith, director of operations for Hydro Management Systems, using reclaim water on undercarriage, cloth and other miscellaneous equipment can save 20 or more gallons of water per car.