Carwash operations curtailed
m15.jpg (12028 bytes)Water discharge regulations force mobile business to halt service at fixed locations

by Cynthia Lee
Daily News Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - A mobile carwash business is being forced to shut down part of its operation after owners of fixed carwashes complained it leaves high concentrations of contaminants on pavements that could was into storm drains.  But the president of the mobile Car Wash Guys, Lance Winslow, said Thursday the shutdown will no curtail the main part of his business, and he is confident of getting clearances from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board as required by the city of Thousand Oaks.

"While it's a real bummer for these high school groups and charities, it won't affect me much," said Winslow, who did mass carwashes as fund-raisers for student groups, charities and as a promotional gimmick for businesses.

In action taken Tuesday night, the City Council allowed Winslow's crews to continue roaming the city's parking lots to wash cars.  But it called for him to stop doing mass carwashes at fixed locations and required him to get clearance from water quality control board exempting his business from water discharge regulations.

m16.jpg (15029 bytes)

Winslow and his irate competitors, owners of fixed carwashes, brandished glass bottles of slimy, soapy residue left over from car washing and debated the environmental merits of their businesses before the City Council Tuesday night.

"My one location generates 38 tons of that material a year," said Jack Galley, a co-owner of the Janss Mall Car-Wash.  "You just can't eliminate it.  It has to be discharged.  It's a slimy, slippery, dirty substance."

The residue is industrial waste that carwash owners are required to have hauled away, dried and disposed of in a landfill.

But the mobile businesses are not abiding by the same laws and regulations to keep hazardous materials from entering the storm drain, the owners of carwashes said.

"Why can a mobile carwash do this with impunity?" asked Scott Armstrong, Galley's assistant manager.

Winslow, who has set up 10 crews that rove from Santa Barbara to San Diego with trucks and water tanks, said normally only very little soap and only 2.4 gallons of water are used to wash one car with special equipment.

To prove that water quality was not an issue, Winslow gulped down some of the cloudy residue that drains off a car as council members grimaced.

"We're not trying to wage war on fixed carwashes," said Winslow.  "I'm not a threat to anybody - I'm just a young guy washing cars."

But Winslow later acknowledged that the business, which is projected to do $500,000 a year, especially since they are now washing Oxnard post office and General Telephone vehicles, among their large accounts.

Article reprinted from Daily News, January 25, 1991.

Return to Index of Articles