Saving Green by Going Green - Water Solutions for Professional Car Wash Operators
By Melissa Wooten
Water is becoming more expensive every day. The lack of freshwater resources to meet demand affects every continent on the globe and was listed in the 2019 World Economic Forum as one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impact over the next decade. Due to rising populations and changing consumption patterns, water has become a resource that is rapidly growing more and more precious around the world. In an effort to be more environmentally responsible as well as save on the increasing costs levied by local municipalities, the car wash industry has recognized a need for water treatment solutions that are tailored specifically to the car wash operator.
Throughout the last decade this technology has seen exponential growth in an industry built on the consumption and usage of water. In an era of new technology and continuing innovation, how do car wash operators find solutions that fit their needs specifically without wasting their other resources — time, money, and most importantly the quality of their wash? There are many options for water treatment solutions within the car wash industry today. Finding the right solution for each situation can take time and effort that can be difficult to find while also managing a business. It is important to find a company that will partner with you to offer informed and educated decisions to save you and your customers time and money from beginning to end. It is also important to find equipment that fits your site’s needs without taking up valuable resources or negatively impacting wash quality.
LIMITED WATER SUPPLY
Water scarcity affects every continent on the globe. Freshwater use has been increasing globally at more than double the rate of population growth within the last 100 years. In the United States alone, the population has risen nearly 7 percent, or around 22 million people, within the last decade. With this surge in population and increase in consumption, a third of the world’s biggest groundwater systems are already in distress. It is imperative that industries that focus on water usage become environmentally aware of the impact that properly recycling and reusing water can have on our global resources. Water is critical for healthy ecosystems and human survival. Water treatment and reclamation has made it possible for wastewater to become a potential resource and its use can provide environmental as well as financial benefits. With a properly designed water reclamation system, a car wash can reclaim and reuse up to 80 percent of its wash water and, in some cases, even closed-loop systems have been successful.
Saving water can increase profits in the car wash industry due to a large increase in environmental awareness among consumers. According to a study done by the Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey in 2017, almost 60 percent of respondents are extremely or very concerned about water shortages. These concerns drive consumers to adjust their buying habits. Consumers are more often looking for options from companies that are better for the world.
In the same study, 81 percent of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.
While the younger generations such as Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X are among the largest group of supporters, the older generations are not far behind. Eighty-five percent of Millennial respondents feel that it is extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment while 72 percent of Baby Boomers agree. Embracing environmental awareness and using that in your marketing strategy can let car wash customers know that your business is partnering with consumers to be better for the planet.
Consumers hold the spending power and will continue to use that power to effect the change they want to see.
It is not just consumers that are pressing for more environmental awareness. The media and local associations are also presenting more and more information to the public to curb water usage and think about being more environmentally responsible. As recently as February 2020, Good Morning America, the most watched morning television show in the United States since 2012, began a water conservation segment inside of a car wash. After exploring ways to conserve water at home, the Good Morning America host urged Americans to visit local car washes instead of washing their cars at home, even applauding the car wash she was in during the segment for recycling their wash water for reuse in industrial applications and irrigation. This particular location uses marketing as mentioned previously to showcase their environmental stewardship, thus driving sales and increasing profits while also saving water.
With environmental awareness becoming more standard in the car wash industry as well as others, many options have surfaced from many different companies offering water treatment solutions. Water treatment solutions are not cookie cutter. Each site can and most likely will present different and unique problems that require knowledge and expertise to solve. One of the main differences site-to-site is the incoming water quality.
What’s in the Water?
Throughout the country and the world, water quality varies based on what contaminants, chemicals, and minerals might be present in the water, in the ground, or in other various areas such as holding tanks, aqueducts, plumbing, etc. These items impact the way in which the water can and should be treated to provide the optimal solution — saving green while also being green. If you look at the reports on page 22, you can see that the water in Humboldt, CA is vastly different from the water in Carrollton, TX. For example, items such as chlorine would present very different solutions for how each region’s water would
Humboldt Water Report
Carrollton Water Report
treated with car wash water equipment. Specifically, the site in Carrollton might require a larger carbon tank due to the higher levels of chlorine found in the water supply, while the site in Humboldt might not need the addition. Other factors such as pH, turbidity, and mineral content can all dictate how a site’s water supply can be effectively treated and what equipment should be purchased to reach optimal quality. This knowledge and foresight can potentially save time and money in the long run, avoiding downtime, maintenance issues and unnecessary costs.
Furthermore, all water-treatment equipment is not created equal. For example, some reverse osmosis systems might require a water softener regardless of incoming water quality. Other systems only require a softener when the hardness of the incoming water contains 25 grains of hardness or more. This is due to engineering features designed within the system to make it more cost effective as well as to minimize maintenance. This feature along with careful planning and extensive knowledge can help implement water solutions that are specific to each car wash site.
Scoping out a complete water treatment solution package takes time and expertise, but ensuring your site has the correct equipment based on the specifics of water quality and your car wash equipment can save time and resources in the end. The same is true of water reclamation equipment. It is important to find solutions specific to your site’s needs to ensure you and your customers are receiving the highest quality product possible.
CHOOSING A SUPPLIER
Saving you money, water, and time should be the ultimate goal of your water-treatment-equipment supplier. Seek a supplier who will partner with you by offering their knowledge, experience, and support. Partnering from the beginning means looking at problems before they arise. Your supplier should assist with your project all the way through from the planning stages. This is to ensure all tanking is correct, that plumbing is installed thoughtfully, and that current water quality is considered before purchasing equipment. Expect your supplier to work closely with your architect, engineers, and general contractor to provide drawings and insight as well as assist with site design that is optimal for water-treatment equipment.
The car wash industry is growing, and for professional car wash operators there are more options than ever for water treatment equipment. Making sure you choose the best and most valuable option can be a process. Make that process easier by looking for proven solutions paired with the knowledge and commitment to assist along the way and beyond. Saving money and time is crucial to any business, and in the car wash business saving water can accomplish both of those things if done correctly. Saving green by going green is the way to go, and your water-treatment-equipment supplier is there to help you make that happen.
Melissa Wooten is marketing and sales manager for New Wave Industries, manufacturer of the PurClean reverse osmosis system and the PurWater water reclamation system. She has been working for New Wave Industries for 11 years and is passionate about conservation and environmental stewardship.