This post, written by MPC research assistant Nick Bastis, first appeared on the What Our Water's Worth blog.
Sparked by a $2 million boost from the state of Illinois, Chicago has been approaching its water meters, or the lack thereof, a little more hastily. Without water meters, billing of residences’ and businesses’ usage is estimated, and considering some of the substantial underestimates revealed recently by the Sun Times, the need for meter installation is dire.
As they exist now, billing estimates for water usage are simply based on the size of land that a home or business occupies, creating the potential for an enormous margin of error. When the function of the particular business is ignored, you end up with some lucky ones like Latino’s Car Wash, who at no fault of their own have been unmetered for 25 years and, based on the average use of neighboring car washes, use somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of water per day. Don’t hold it against the folks at Latino’s though – in fact, you might want to do just the opposite: Their sans-meter facility offers one of the cheapest washes in town.
Car washes are among the largest consumers of water – some use over 10,000 gallons a day – however, with organizations such as Water Savers and the International Car Wash Association, there is an impressive administrative infrastructure to support sustainable initiatives like water recycling. King Car Wash in Westmont, Ill., is one such car wash that has taken it upon themselves to save water, and as a result, some serious cash. Frank Trilla, a second generation owner, has installed a water recycling system and rain water barrels at his state-of-the-art facility. Handling an average of 300 cars per day, he recycles about 80 percent of his water with the help of some soap-eating media beds, or “bugs” as he calls them. With the simple technology they have invested in, King Car Wash is a rarity – a car wash that would probably be getting overestimated without a meter.
Check out the video below, and stay tuned for more on King Car Wash: