m127.jpg (10361 bytes)Carwash runoff tests inconclusive
By John Lucero

Daily News Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - Regional Water Quality Control Board officials say in a letter to city officials that tests of runoff for contaminants from mobile carwashes are inconclusive and any regulation is a local responsibility.

The April 13 letter from water board chief engineer Richard Harris to Thousand Oaks was written in response to city requests for an analysis of runoff samples taken after fixed carwash owners complained their mobile competitors were not properly regulated.

"As far as I'm concerned this should be something the city should handle through business licenses, land-use policies or be regulating under city ordinance," Harris said in an interview.  "We don't have the wherewithal with 107 people in this office to regulate (organizations) from holding a carwash.  Technically, it is a violation of discharge waste that could require a permit."

Harris said in the letter that any discharges of "casual water" to parking lots, sidewalks or gutters probably constitutes a nuisance but not a water quality concern.

"The two tests ... are no different than what comes from washing a family car in a driveway," Harris said.  "They (results of the tests) weren't too much different than what comes from a car driving down the freeway in the rain.  That's my professional opinion."

Don LaVoie, Thousand Oaks code enforcement manager, said he is drafting a staff report on the matter that will go before the City Council on May 11.

Concerns about waste water from the mobile carwashers were raised by owners of fixed-carwash owners who claim mobile businesses compete unfairly by violating zoning ordinances and possibly laws regulating waste water.

Mobile carwashers say that they are running legitimate businesses and are being targeted by fixed carwashers because they don't like the competition.

The Thousand Oaks City Council voted 4-1 in January, with Councilman Frank Schillo dissenting, to spend $1,000 to conduct the water tests, officials said.  Controlled tests were conducted in February and forwarded to the water control board for review and comment.

The Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce has met with mobile and fixed carwashers and detailers along with city officials to come up with guidelines.

Reprinted from Daily News, April 27, 1993.

Return to Index of Articles