Scrubs car wash making waves with water-saving measures
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
Conserving water isn’t just about being eco-friendly for the owners of Scrubs Car and Dog Wash in Gainesville - it’s also a cost-saving strategy.
Scrubs owners Chris Koenig and Mike Wasik gradually started to invest in water-saving strategies several years ago, but they recently garnered praise for their efforts from Alachua County.
Scrubs Carwash, located at 3135 SW 42nd St., is the first business the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has recognized for taking steps to protect water resources. At an April County Commission meeting, the department highlighted the company’s use of water-saving nozzles to dampen its impact on that increasingly precious resource.
Drivers who roll through Scrubs’ twin automated car wash stations watch as silver nozzles spray water across their hoods, but many of them don’t realize how much water they save or how much money has been invested in them.
Implementing better nozzles cost about $10,000, but Wasik said the business benefits from lower utility rates just as the environment benefits from lower water usage. It’s a short-term expense that generates long-term savings.
“We think that it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “Everything’s come out of our own pocket.”
The nozzles reduce the automatic machines’ water use by 40 percent, according to a county news release. Each wash uses less than 40 gallons of water.
Meanwhile, the nozzles at its self-serve stations use about three gallons per minute compared with the nine to 17 gallons per minute typically used up by people who wash their cars at home.
The automatic stations’ nozzles rotate so fast they push dirt of off cars with less water, Koenig said. They were fully implemented last fall.
Scrubs is doing more business this year than last year, but it’s still using less water than it did before, he said.
This wasn’t the company’s first water-saving project. Koenig and Wasik, who opened Scrubs in May 2001 as a side business, spent about $10,000 on a water-recycling process several years ago.
A spot-free water solution is used to rinse cars because it doesn’t leave marks behind, Koenig said. But for every gallon of spot-free water that’s made, three gallons of regular water is thrown away.
Scrubs has a tank that stores the rejected water and uses it to rinse the undercarriages of cars and other spaces that don’t need the spot-free treatment.
The pair are now developing a plan to collect and use rainwater. They hope to complete the project, which will also cost about $10,000, sometime this summer.
They plan to direct rainwater runoff into three 500-gallon containers through a gutter system on the business’s roof. Then the rainwater can be used for rinsing cars.
The Scrubs owners try to save as much water as they can and encourage others to do the same. One water-saving suggestion from the owners is to change the way clubs run car wash fundraisers.
Instead of hosting a car wash, groups can buy wash bucks or wash tokens from Scrubs at cost, sell them at full price and pocket the difference, the owners said. Then, customers can get the car wash whenever they want.
“It’s so much simpler,” Koenig said.
Chris Bird, director of the county EPD, said residents sometimes complain about the water that’s wasted by car wash fundraisers and the chemical runoff that dribbles into local creeks. He said he considers Scrubs’ program to be a better solution.
Scrubs is doing more to save water than many of its counterparts. It is the first car wash in Central Florida to receive the International Carwash Association’s WaterSavers distinction, Wasik said. The WaterSavers recognition program helps car washes promote their green business practices, according to the website.
“We’re a small, self-serve car wash in Gainesville, Florida,” Wasik said. “But we’re trying to make a difference.”
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or email@example.com.