Talkin' bout the car wash

Certain commercial operators are more efficient than driveway-washing

I can't remember the last time my car was washed, but the healthy layer of dirt and caked-on bugs indicates it's been a while. My drought guilt has kept me away from a car wash and I've been reluctant to turn on the hose at home, too, for fear of being a water-waster. I've also been citing my concern about our water resources as the reason why there are dishes piled in my sink and loads of laundry that need washing, but I think people are starting to doubt my altruism on that front.

The other day, I was driving my dusty car down Mangrove Avenue and noticed large signs outside Eric's Car Wash with the words “recycled water.” I was intrigued. I gave the business a call and Marilyn Barker, who's been with the car wash for 32 years, said it has always been the business' practice to use recycled water.

Barker said cars at Eric's are washed over a grate, with the water going down into a pit. It then goes through a reclamation system, with the dirt, oil and road grime filtered out so the water can be used again. Reclamation systems have been around the car wash industry for decades, Barker said, but the drought is drawing more attention to the practice.

Barker said the signs boasting this use have been around a while, too, but are also gaining more notice. She said there's been a noticeable dip in business, due to a consciousness of the drought, but that the car wash is taking every opportunity to educate the public about the water-saving practices it employs.

Over at Scrubbs, General Manager Makaela Wabs said that although the business does not use recycled water, it's WaterSavers certified. Eric's Car Wash has this distinction as well. The certification process is run by the International Carwash Association, a nonprofit trade organization, and to earn the designation, car washes must follow a number of conservation methods, including using no more than 40 gallons of fresh water per car. The organization's website notes that washing your car at home can use more than 60 gallons in as little as five minutes.

In fact, a number of publications, California municipalities and water conservation organizations are promoting commercial car washes as a water-saving alternative to washing your car at home. The Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Regional Water Authority for the Sacramento region and the Sonoma Marin Water Savings Partnership, among others, are also touting the benefits of these businesses.

Downtown eatery update. I gave a quick call to Nick Land, manager of Burgers and Brew, a few days before the restaurant's opening late last week at its new location at Third and Broadway, one block south. Land said plans for Crepeville have been put on hold at the moment. I'll keep my eyes peeled for updates on that front.