Should All Car Washes Recycle Their Water? California Thinks So With a New Law

Over the years I've become so very cynical when it comes to lawmakers producing new legislation. So, often it pretends to come from an environmental fear, but when we look close, it came into existence due to industry associations and businesses funding political campaigns to get new legislation past preventing one business from competing with another. I know many folks don't think this happens or perhaps believe it only occasionally happens, but I assure you it is so wide spread that it has ruined our free-market economy. Okay so let's talk shall we, and for this article I'd like to use a piece of legislation in the car washing sector because, I have a good bit of knowledge there.

There was an interesting article in Car Washing Magazine recently titled; "Law requiring car washes to recycle water passed in CA," which was published on September 27, 2012. The actual Law states;
"Section I. The Legislature finds and declares that the purpose of this bill is to reduce water consumption from commercial car wash facilities by requiring all new conveyor and in-bay car washes to install operational, recycled water systems," and "(a) Install, use, and maintain a water recycling system that recycles and reuses at least 60% of the wash and rinse water. (b) Use recycled water provided by a water supplier for at least 60% of its wash and rinse water."

Sure, it makes sense to save water, but realize that businesses want to be efficient to save money, so really such a law isn't needed. If there is a water shortage prices should increase and therefore, the car wash owner will automatically lean towards recycling their water. By the way most car washes already do. It's a lot like the CAFÉ standards for fuel economy on new cars, people want more MPG when fuel costs are high, so they buy cars that get better mileage, thus, the car makers make cars which do to solve that demand.
Now then, back to this regulation, if they are doing it to the Car Washing Industry - they are going to do it to the truck wash sector too. Not that recycling isn't wise, just that it is mandated in this way. Truck washes already recycle also, but what about other sectors of the washing industry? How about a very small detail shops that also wash cars, allowing customers to come in between quarterly or monthly details? In that case, the detail shop is probably only using 2.4 GPM (gallons per minute) at 1200 PSI (pounds per square inch), so if it takes them 6-8 minutes (maximum) of spraying time they aren't even using the 15-20 gallons (maximum).

An actual car wash uses that much even after they recycle, plus, 4-6 gallons of water typically leaves the car wash and drips off later outside as they move the cars out of the tunnel quickly. Then it also drips off the undercarriage as they drive down the road.

Still, although the law affects very little, it has unintended consequences and will be used by the equipment vendors in the car wash associations to sell more equipment, and put little guys out of business, that's too bad, but that's how the "rule maker" and crony capitalist "rule maker" syndrome works. California is notorious for coming up with new rules and who knows what they might do next? Yes, there is opportunity in crisis, but believe me there is enough chaos with the economy, weather, and industry, we hardly need the government creating more you see.

Next, consider that there is landscape, bathroom, and washing down the facility of car wash, all of which also uses water as well. Does that count? Do car washes now have to put tiny meters on all of their other water uses? Who is going to monitor all this, that costs taxpayers money for more enforcement officers to run around to check? When will they check, will they wait until someone complains? Who might complain - a competitor probably - see that point? Personally, I think we need to stop making rules for a while, and perhaps start a rule reduction problem, unfortunately, that's not how obtrusive government rolls. Please consider all this and think on it.

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