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Water is a precious resource, the incoming of which we simply cannot control, at least not yet, and the only thing that can be controlled is how the current supply is used and reused. As droughts (and impending droughts) subvert areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere (namely the entire state of California and Northern Texas), it's safe to say that using, saving and reusing water is an important factor of your business. Even if your area is in a drought-free zone, it doesn't hurt to still work on your water-saving initiatives, which can not only save you money, but also attract customers who are mindful of the environment and its delicate resources.
Gary Hirsh, president of New Wave Industries, Ltd., PurClean™ & PurWater™, lets us in on the current water climate and what initiatives to consider taking to concurrently stay afloat, save water and protect your incoming supply.
According to Hirsh, water and sewer costs are rising at exponential rates and will continue to increase due to diminishing supplies of water and an aging municipal water treatment infrastructure to properly support the growing commercial and residential demand — water consumption in the United States has tripled in the last 50 years. Additionally, changing weather patterns and widespread drought conditions have further compounded our nationwide water supply shortage. As a result, municipalities have increased TAP fee’s to access municipal water/sewer and have introduced policies regulating water usage including limitations on usage during drought conditions for businesses including carwash operators who have not incorporated recovery/reclaim systems. The governor of the state of California signed Bill AB 2230 on September 2012 requiring in-bay and conveyor carwash projects permitted and constructed after January 1, 2014, to either install, use, and maintain a water recycling system, as defined, that recycles and reuses at least 60 percent of the wash and rinse water, or to use recycled water provided by a water supplier for at least 60 percent of its wash and rinse water.
"Did you know if there is a looming water crisis for the upcoming hotter months?" asks Hirsh. The current water situation is quite bleak: 47 percent of the lower 48 states are still in the middle of a long-term drought. As an example; The Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest aquifer systems in the world stretching across all or portions of eight states including South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas and underlies about 174,000 square miles. The Ogallala Aquifer supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the near 3 million people living within the boundaries of the High Plains and is currently being drained at a rate of approximately 800 gallons per minute. The U.S. Geological Survey states that a volume equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie has been permanently drained from the Ogallala Aquifer since 1940. The Ogallala Aquifer had an average depth of approximately 240 feet, today the average depth is just 80 feet.
In some areas of Texas, the water is gone completely and the average annual depletion rate between 2000 and 2007 was more than twice that during the previous 50 years. As we head into the hotter summer months, the overall U.S. drought outlook remains nearly steady across the country.
Hirsh states that the two biggest misconceptions are that water reclaim systems are difficult to operate and maintain and the water has offensive odor. When planning to incorporate a reclaim into your wash model, it’s important to select a manufacturer who has earned a reputation of providing quality equipment, engineering support and offers local service through a reputable factory trained distributor. A quality reclaim manufacturer will evaluate your wash model and site conditions to determine the most appropriate reclaim system for the targeted wash application as well as review your existing underground tanking/plumbing infrastructure to determine if any site modifications are required to provide optimum settling of solids resulting in an efficient water recovery system. If the site currently does not have an underground tanking/plumbing system, the manufacturer along with the local distributor should be able to provide the necessary engineering for the operator to properly incorporate one.
Hirsh says there has been significant advancements in reclaim technology including Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to assure energy efficiency, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) that have automated the process and Human Machine Interface (HMI) to provide the operator with a graphics-based visualization of the control and monitoring system making the system efficient and user friendly.