Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Water: An underappreciated asset

October 11, 2010
As I write this article, the northeastern part of the United States is in the middle of one of the worst nor’easter in years. Colorado and Kansas just got more snow on top of the many feet they’ve received already. Texas and other southern (and eastern) states are flooding. Two weeks ago, a storm here in Wyoming dumped over six feet of snow in some of the mountain ranges.

Many communities have to worry about drought this summer. Our concern in Wyoming is the less than yearly average snow pack. Wyoming has been in drought conditions for the last five or six years.

In some of the western states they are predicting water shortages. In some communities, residents have to worry about shortages every year.

Get ahead of the curve
Hopefully your community will not have to worry about water shortages this summer, but if you do, be proactive and get out ahead of it.

Educate the city council or county commission in your community. Tell them how you are (or planning on) saving water. If they don’t know already, explain how the carwash will save water in comparison to the driveway washer.

The International Carwash Association (ICA) can help you with the details. They can make a pretty convincing case for you.

And while you’re at it, point out that all your waste water is delivered to the sewer treatment plant and the driveway water runs into the storm sewer. In the last five to 10 years, some communities have outlawed driveway washing completely.

In our area, the driveway washer has not yet been outlawed, but community leaders are aware of professional carwash advantages. In 2003, I was worried that Evansville, NY, my site’s location, would restrict the use of water.

I would like to share with you a letter I wrote to Evansville’s (a suburb of Casper) utility supervisor during that time, when the city of Casper put on water restrictions.

Use it as an outline for your letter if it works for you.

Dear Ron:
Per our discussion yesterday, I’m writing this letter to inform the town of the steps American Pride Carwash has or will take to save as much water as possible during the drought period and in particular, March and April.

As you know, back in 2001, American Pride Carwash added six new bays. With the new construction, we installed the very latest high technology, energy saving, efficient machinery we could. With the new pumps, we cut the nozzle size by three, decreasing the water usage by 20 percent.

The new pumps have positive sealing around the plungers so the water no longer seeps past the seals and down the drain. This pumping system has a closed pump suction rather than old gravity feed tanks for hot and cold water that could, and did, run over.

The weep system for protection from freeze-ups in the winter is on remote sensing thermostats and turns on automatically only when the temperature drops below 36 degrees, shutting off the water automatically when the temperature rises again.

Although it was not connected this winter, we installed a reclaim, recycling system for the weep. This could be connected next winter with little effort and expense.

With the exception of the weep reclaim and recycle system, in 2002, we installed the very same equipment in the older six bays, finishing just recently. The water savings should show up on this year’s consumption.

We will instruct our attendants to sweep the driveways rather than wash down with the hose. We will still have to wash the bays and apron because of the dirt and mud left behind by the cars, but we will instruct the attendants on how to wash with the least amount of water.

We will design and distribute an instructional “Save Water, Time, Money” sheet to our carwash customers (or anyone interested) highlighting the ways to wash a car with the latest technology using the least amount of water possible. I’ve enclosed a draft copy with this letter.

We may be able to decrease our nozzle size. We have ordered the nozzles for experimentation, but I’m not sure it would be as effective as the instructional sheet. Educating the carwasher might be the best bang for the buck.

Ron, I would like to thank the town for recognizing that a self service carwash is the most efficient use of carwashing water possible.

Not only can the operator choose the low-pressure (less water) soap function presoak, or the medium-pressure spot free rinse, but because he/she is driven by the desire to save as much money as possible, they will direct the water only at the car, maximizing the water usage. And anyone reasonably coordinated will have very little overspray (wasted water).

One other point I would like to make is that for 10-15 percent of our citizens, the automobile is their largest lifetime investment. For the other 85-90 percent, their cars are the second largest investment. It would be foolish for them not to protect (wash) items of such high monetary value.

Unfortunately, we do have acid rain in Wyoming. The acid in bugs bodies will eat on the paint of an automobile regardless of how much one paid for it. All cars should be washed every two weeks at the minimum.

Please thank the town elders for me and if I can help in any way, let me know. Hopefully we’ll get enough moisture in the next few months that Casper will be able to release restrictions for the rest of the summer to enjoy the warm Wyoming weather (wind).

Praying for snow in the mountains.

Dennis Ryan, President

Dennis Ryan has been in the carwash business since 1988 and the construction business for 40 years. At one time he owned and operated five self-service carwashes. Currently he owns and operates American Pride Carwash in Evansville, a suburb of Casper, WY. He can be contacted at