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Car washes must recycle water in Gainesville
City council passes new ordinance
Erick Rosario, left, and Edgar Arroyo dry a car as it exits the automatic car wash bay at Diamond Auto Spa & Lube Thursday afternoon.

A new ordinance presented at the Gainesville City Council work session Thursday would make recycling water a requirement for new car washes, but local car washing businesses may already make it a priority.

At the work session, Environmental Services Administrator Horace Gee presented the new ordinance, which requires car washes built after the ordinance takes effect in January to recycle water.

The ordinance puts the city in compliance with new Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District requirements.

The new ordinance would go into effect Jan. 1, but it needed to go before the council sooner to bring the city into compliance with an audit from the Environmental Protection Division, said Kelly Randall, Public Utilities Department director.

“It’s just good business when it comes to water,” Randall said. “It shows communities in the rest of the state that we are good stewards of our water.”

Gee said most area car washes already recycle.

“It’s not really anything new to our area,” Gee said. “If you drive up and down the streets, you see car washes advertising $3 and $4 car washes. They couldn’t do that without a re-use system. It’s really nothing new; it’s just bringing us into compliance with the ordinance division.”

Randall offered a similar perspective.

“Our community was really in compliance, and the business community who runs the car washes, they already are good stewards of the water,” Randall said.

For Gainesville’s Diamond Auto Spa & Lube, recycling is just another part of the daily operation.

“Most people don’t realize that the majority of the water that’s used in a conveyor car wash is recycled water,” said Scott Ballard, Diamond’s director of operations and marketing.

He said fresh water is used as the car enters the system and when the car leaves the tunnel, but for everything else in between, the water has been recycled.

Nearly 100 percent of the fresh water the company uses is recycled through its system, Ballard said.

He cited such efforts as the company’s Diamond Promise Program, which allows groups to have fundraising events at the car wash instead of doing a traditional parking lot car wash fundraiser, which Ballard said wastes more fresh water.

He said car wash companies in Atlanta and the surrounding area also banded together during the height of the drought to form a coalition of car wash businesses committed to conserving water.

“The car wash community at large is very conscious about water conservation and water usage and doing things not only locally but statewide to support that effort,” he said.