The Car Wash and Recycled Water

During a recent drought, the local news suggested some water conserving tips. One of these was using a Car Wash as they recycle their water. I have noticed dirty water coming out of the nozzle on at least one occasion, so I’m inclined to think that the recycling business is true. My question is:

How do they remove the pink foam brush soap, engine cleaner, lemon wax (and etceteras)from the rinse water?

I can imagine a few ways of doing this, but none seem to be efficient or cost effective enough to make the car wash profitable.


My local water company recently sent around vouchers for car washes extolling their virtue compared with hand-washing. Part of that presumably is due to higher pressures and mechanisation, but I guess part of it is water recycling.

WAG*: they use the recycled water for the wash and fresh water for the rinse.

*[sub]WAG: Wild Assed Guess, in case you haven’t come across the term. Welcome to the SDMB pcroughn. Now you don’t need to bump your thread.[/sub]

picmr’s answer seems pretty plausible.
I always wondered about that, too. Last summer we had a pretty bad drought and only the car washes that recycled their water were allowed to operate.
Sounds a little like being at the end of the line for the bathtub in days of yore…yuck, I’m last again? Oh, gross! :wink:

Yeah, if the wash water is recycled (and maybe filtered somehow?) and fresh water is used for rinsing, then I guess it’s not so bad.
Maybe what is used for rinsing your car is used for washing the next car? After all, it’s clean coming off your car, right?

Okay, I live in the Great Lakes, so this will like never be a problem for me, so forgive the ignorance of my questions…

They do what? They tell car washes they can’t operate? I realize water is precious, but doesn’t anybody believe in the American Way?

Rather than wasting money trying to tell people to conserve, or worse, closing down a business that pays honestly and fairly for its own water, can’t your city (or water supplier) just bump up the charge for water? Then the obvious will happen: people will conserve. The carwashes can operate. You can water your lawn. All this, if you’re willing to pay the premium.

It works with gasoline, for Pete’s sake, and pretty much anything else.

It’s not that they can’t operate, they somehow clean their water and reuse it.

ANywho, round these, here, parts, the water is supplied by private utility companies who have little control regarding the rates they charge.

My punishment for not reading closely enough is that I am now left with the indelible mental image of Balthisar paddling happily in Lake Michigan (he has one of those swimming pool floating thingies to hold his modem and computer), and that you can recycle gasoline.


Bring more coffee.

Okay, I need a fellow Mid-Atlantic doper to help me out.
I remember last summer when we had a really bad drought, and hearing that car washes had to recycle their water or they could not open. Maybe it was only on certain days or maybe restricted hours? Sorry, I can’t remember exactly.
There were restrictions on watering grass and plants, too. No sprinklers or hose watering; you had to fill watering cans and do it. I think that you were also not supposed to wash your car at home, either.

All the American Way in the world isn’t going to add water to the aquifers. If water needs to be conserved, it needs to be conserved.

The problem with using a market system to force water conservation is that it’s not reactive enough. You don’t pay for water when you use it, you pay for it months later when your once-every-six-months water bill arrives. This is usually long after the drought has been resolved. And you can’t charge for peak/non-peak/drought usage without incredibly expensive modifications to all the water meters in the area (unless you read all the meters on a near daily basis). Ain’t gonna happen.

So yes, telling people or industries that they can’t use water (or some other resource such as, fer example, electricity) is a reasonable way of coping with shortages of fairly short-term duration or until new infrastructure can be built. It has nothing to do with the American Way, and probably a lot to do with the agreement you (implicitly) signed with your utility provider when you got the service.