Vehicle Washing

There are certain questions that always seem to arise when "conservation" of water becomes a local issue. Among those are "Well, it's raining today so isn't the water crisis over?" or "Why don't you go after those (insert category here) who water the streets and gutters instead of their lawn? And, not only that, they water when it's raining!" and then, finally, "If there is a water crisis, why are you allowing cars to be washed?" The efficient technologies and practices adopted in recent years by many in the car wash industry, however, have gone a long way toward minimizing the use of water in these facilities. In fact, some might consider this industry to be one of the more progressive when it comes to water use efficiency. Frequently, the emphasis upon re-use of water in car washes has been driven by sanitary sewer discharge requirements, NOT by the programs of the water utilities. However, some water utilities have exhibited a special interest in achieving greater water efficiency in the car wash sector. As such, a number of studies have been completed over the years that describe what new technologies and practices are available to that sector. Some of those study reports are available here for your review and download. If you know of or possess other study reports or other documentation that you believe would contribute to the knowledge base on efficiency in vehicle washing, please let us know. With permission, we will post it here. Check these...

Two studies on water conservation sponsored by the International Car Wash Association and written by consultant Chris Brown are available
- Car Wash Study-2000-Chris Brown (PDF)
- Car Wash Study-2002-Chris Brown (PDF)

An important study on effluent and solid waste characteristics (also authored by Chris Brown), sponsored by the International Car Wash Association:
- Car Wash Effluent/Solid Waste Study-2002 (PDF)

And then there is the Water Smart Car Wash program of the Southern Nevada Water Authority:

In 2006, the Council commissioned a study by Chris Brown to examine the California statewide water savings potential for a Best Management Practice covering car wash efficiency. The draft report may be downloaded here:
- PBMP Report- Vehicle Wash Systems (PDF)

Finally, the Australian Car Wash Association is launching a rating scheme for car washes and their water efficiency:
- ACWA Water Saver Rating Scheme Report (PDF)

For further information on water efficiency in this sector, contact  California Water Efficiency Partnership at