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Austin-area carwashes barred from operating due to water shortage

AUSTIN, Texas — According to www.kxan.com, Travis County Judge Andy Brown issued an order on the evening of Feb. 20th that prohibits carwash services until Feb. 25th due to the water shortage.

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The order came after KXAN received reports from several residents about carwashes operating in the area, despite thousands of Texans waiting for enough clean water to drink and bathe with, and the news outlet checked in with local leaders.

In addition to noting that carwashes were open, many residents reported seeing long lines at these carwashes, and several social media users questioned why these high-water-use businesses could operate when they themselves had not had water for days.

Steve Stewart, manager of Barton Springs Car Wash, told KXAN News that the company is offering water to the community but trying to limit it to two to five gallons per family.

The carwash also posted this statement to its website:

“We are privileged to be back in business; it wasn’t easy but as a team we can do anything. To those of you who are currently without water, our hearts reach out to you. We are conserving water as much as we can to still be operational by using recycled water in our troughs and automatic shut off nozzles on our hoses. The city is not on a water conservation notice, only a boil water one. If you mention to the cashier that you are currently without water, we will gladly give you a discount on your carwash and fill up any containers you bring with you. Despairing as it may be to go without water, all that we can control is what is in front of us and we can do a mind-blowing carwash while conserving water as well.”

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When KXAN News reached out to city and county officials asking about guidance for businesses at this time, an Austin Water spokeswoman said, “Under the Boil Water Notice Austin is under, mandatory conservation requirements are in force. Residents and businesses should implement all appropriate restrictions to save water.”

She also stated that customers may not:

  • Use water for irrigation or testing of irrigation equipment
  • Wash vehicles, including at commercial carwashes
  • Wash pavement or other surfaces
  • Add water to a pool or spa
  • Conduct foundation watering
  • Operate an ornamental fountain or pond, other than the aeration necessary to support aquatic life.

According to the City of Austin’s Water Conservation team, there is a $250 fine for the first offense.

When KXAN reached out to Washaroo Hand Car Wash about the matter, the company replied with this statement:

“We were unaware of the order put out by Austin Water. It’s been a rough couple weeks for my employees with this weather, as we are a business that closes with rain and snow. We are trying to do everything we can to support them in these tough times. Starting tomorrow, we will be giving away free cleanings on the inside of vehicles to anyone that pulls in, and we are asking for donations/tips. All funds will go directly to our employees pockets. We will also give away free water to anyone that wants to fill up jugs.”

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In a release, Judge Brown said, “We’re working across the county to ensure water is restored to all of our residents. That is why we’re asking businesses to put their carwashing services on hold until we can get this critical water supply to our entire community.” 

Read the original story here.

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