Photo by Kaison Kim/Staff photographerThree men toast to clean wastewater
By Penny Arevalo
Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - The champagne glasses went clink! and it was bottoms up.

But it wasn't champagne or white wine or even sparkling apple cider that the three men were drinking.

It was water used to wash a car - water that had already cleaned the car.

"Everybody says our water's bad, that our wastewater is bad, but it's not," said Lance Winslow, owner of the Car Wash Guys.

He came up with the idea of drinking the water after the city collected a sample of it Wednesday to test for pollutants.

Mobile car washers have come under fire in the last few months.  A committee of mobile car wash owners, permanent car wash owners, city officials and representatives from the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce will report back to the City Council in mid-April with a plan to regulate the new and growing industry.

The council already has direct city code enforcement officers to discourage mobile car washers from working on city streets.   They are still allowed to wash cars on private property - such as in office parking lots - with permission of the property owner.

Winslow said the claim that mobile car washers pollute the environment is a tactic that owners of fixed car washes have used to give them a bad name.  He is confident the city's test will clear them.

Don Nelson, director of utilities for the city, said the water samples are being sent to two laboratories and results should be back in two to three weeks.

The tests will look for organic pollutants and such contaminants as suspended solids, oil and grease, lead, zinc and petroleum hydrocarbons, Nelson said.

Results will go to the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, which will determine whether the number of pollutants present warrants having mobile car washers obtain a wastewater permit, Nelson said.

So how did the water taste?

"The water was really clean," Winslow said.  "I was surprised. I had never done that before.  It actually tasted like clear water."

Reprinted from News Chronicle, February 18, 1993.

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