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One expert weighs in on how other carwashes are conserving water

Gary Hirsh, president of New Wave Industries, talks to Managing Editor Phillip Lawless.

July 31, 2012
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Phillip Lawless: What are some common ways that modern carwashes are conserving water?

Gary Hirsh: Today’s operators are doing everything they can to reduce fresh water usage from repairing leaking toilets to reducing nozzles, capturing reject water from their spot-free rinse systems and using this water for wash components that would otherwise require fresh water, but many operators are incorporating water reclaim systems into their washes. The technology has advanced to the point where an operator can effectively reclaim 85-90 percent of the wash water without negatively impacting wash quality.    

Phillip Lawless: How can older carwashes be upgraded to conserve water?

Gary Hirsh: Many carwash operators had the foresight to incorporate underground tanking when originally building their wash or were required by the municipality, but did not include a water reclaim system at the time since water/sewer costs were much lower at the time. These tanks can be used for settling tanks when adding a water recovery system and may require some minimal plumbing modifications, but the typical return on investment will more than justify any modification required. If underground tanking does not currently exist and or installing underground tanking is not an option, above ground tanking can be incorporated to accomplish the settling process when adding a water recovery system.

Phillip Lawless: What advantages can water conservation offer a carwash and a community?

Gary Hirsh: Water and sewer costs continue to rise exponentially and our water treatment plants across the U.S. are already leveraged, and coupled with an ever-expanding demand by commercial and residential customers, there is little relief of rising costs insight. By incorporating water conservation techniques, reducing nozzles sizes and incorporating water reclaim systems, operators will reduce their fresh water demand, save money on water/sewer costs resulting in positively impacting their bottom line. Furthermore, by reducing the demand for fresh water, the operator will preserve a vanishing natural resource of fresh water while exhibiting his or her environmental stewardship within their community.   

Phillip Lawless: How can carwash owners educate customers — and potential customers — about the environmental advantages of professional carwashing?

Gary Hirsh: Operators can promote their environmental stewardship and the advantages of patronizing an environmentally-friendly carwash through social media, advertising, their website and signage throughout the wash, but the best method of educating current and potential customers about the advantages of visiting a professional, environmentally-friendly carwash is to join and participate in the International Carwash Association’s®(ICA) WaterSavers®program. WaterSaversis a recognition program from the ICA designed to help professional carwashes promote their environmentally responsible business practices.  

Phillip Lawless: Do you see government becoming more involved in carwash water usage in the future? If so, how and why?

Gary Hirsh: Many municipalities and several states have already begun establishing standards (i.e. requiring carwashes to reclaim a pre-determined percentage of their wash water for retail carwashes), but the primary involvement is through increased water/sewer rates as an impetus to operators to integrate water saving devises in their carwashes to minimize fresh water usage.     

Phillip Lawless: How have carwash industry groups worked to help carwash owners learn the importance of water conservation?

Gary Hirsh: The ICA and their WaterSavers program has done a great job in educating carwash owners about the importance of water conservation as well as how to effectively educate the motoring public about the benefits of washing their vehicles at participating carwashes. Many manufacturers offer educational programs which include educating carwash owners/operators on the importance of water quality and best water management practices.

Phillip Lawless: What new technology or new wash methods look promising when it comes to future water conservation?

Gary Hirsh: Most of the carwash manufacturers understand the necessity of water conservation and have engineered their product offering to include water saving technology, but with that said the technology of water recovery/reclaim has made significant advances and have the capability of capturing, filtering and re-using upwards of 90 percent of the wash water without negatively impacting wash quality. Current technology provides the targeted wash with high quality 5-Micron, odorless and color-free wash water that dramatically reduces the need for fresh water while minimizing sewer discharge resulting in reducing the operators’ water/sewer costs, increasing the operators’ profitability while practicing environmental stewardship by conserving water.

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