City Water Restrictions Lifted For Local Car Washes

City Water Restrictions Lifted For Local Car Washes

Wichita Falls car washes will now be allowed to continue using city water even after the combined lake levels hit below 20 percent. The Wichita Falls City Council voted to approve amending a previous city ordinance Tuesday.

That ordinance would have cut city water from local car washes once the combined lake levels hit 20 percent. At that point, car washes would either have to find an alternative water source or close the business.

Both large and small car wash business owners, all across Wichita Falls, came out to fight for their future Tuesday.

Not only to keep their businesses up and running, but also to show how much water car washes in the city use, and how much they conserve.

"We are very concerned about all of this," said Mike Stolt, a local car wash owner. "What is disconcerting to us all is that it does not have to be this way, it should not be this way for many different reasons."

Car Wash owners said the businesses have been continually trying their hardest to conserve in all areas possible. They said they've cut down on 40 percent of city water use in just the past three years.

They said around 66 percent of all the water used is recycled. And some city officials said even if all cars washes were to shut down, the water saved would only provide the city with a few extra days.

"It's just not, in my scheme of things, they're not the reason why," said Tim Ingle, Wichita Falls City Councilor.  "I understand…that it can seem like it's a waste, but in reality they're part of this business community."

Other city officials said car washes are responsible for  taking about 27 million gallons of water from the city annually. That same amount of water that could serve 240 homes for a year, according to Public Works Director, Russell Schreiber.

Schreiber said the 17 to 33 percent of water used, that's not recycled, goes to waste. He said the majority of that came straight out of the lakes.

However, car wash owners argue that, that big number is really just a drop in the bucket. And t

hose owners said many businesses  would not survive if they couldn't use city water.

"I've checked into it, and financially I don't think it would benefit me to do it and try to make a living," said Chuck Bradley, another local car wash owner.

"If you haul water in you break even at best and many of us are looking at losses, and it's hard for us to do that we don't have the pockets of a city or corporation," said Jim Cadotte, owner of All-American Car Wash.

But Councilor Michael Smith, who voted against lifting the restriction said everyone has been forced to make changes.

"They're not the only ones," said Smith. "I would say they are the ones that will be most affected because it will possibly be letting employees go."

"Washing vehicles and using drinking water to wash vehicles, at some point needs to be eliminated in a drought," said Schreiber.

Although the resentment from Schreiber and Smith, the restrictions were lifted by a four to two vote from city council member. Those opposed were Councilman Michael Smith, and Mayor Glenn Barham. Those that voted in favor was Annetta Pope-Dotson, Tim Ingle, Brian Hooker, and Ben Hoover.

Those that voted in favor said the city is not in as dire of a situation as they were this past summer when the restrictions were put in place. They also considered upcoming projects from Howmet, and PPG.

Those are expected to save the city roughly 300,000 gallons of water a day. The councilor's did leave the meeting open to changes, should the city go back to  a more dire situation.

, Newschannel 6