Car wash aiming to be environmentally friendly
Water filtration system imported from East Coast puts Cotatiís College Car Wash ahead of the curve
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By Dave Williams  November 2, 2012 12:00 am

Dan Brown and Matt Riveras may not be able to transform the rest of the world into thinking in more environmentally friendly terms, but they are doing their part.

The two entrepreneurs have taken on the task of making car washes much safer for the environment. When they purchased College Car Wash on East Cotati Avenue in Cotati two years ago, they realized it was operating well or efficiently. So the two began putting big-time money into making the car wash a model of conservation and environmental cleanliness.

Car washes traditionally are an environmentally fragile topic, as the chemicals often flow into storm drains and could impact rivers and streams.

“Touchless” car wash
Brown and Riveras, who requested not to be pictured for this story, have installed the only onsite water filtration system used at a car wash in Sonoma County. It provides approximately 75 percent or more of the wash water used by their “touchless” automatic car wash system.

The filtration system was custom made for College Car Wash by a company on the east coast and, with installation, cost more than $70,000.

“We use less water, and the water we eventually send to sanitary system is cleaner than it otherwise would be,” said Brown, whose primary source of income comes from being a chiropractor. “It makes us more diligent with all environmental components of the wash. It’s a reminder we’re putting efforts into reclaiming water and doing everything for environment.”
Riveras, a banker who lives in Windsor, touts the benefits of drivers taking their vehicles to car washes rather than doing it at home.

“If you wash your car twice a month at home, you could effectively be using 200-400 gallons of water,” Riveras said. “Industry standards say a typical home uses 100 gallons per car per wash. That’s with garden nozzle. We don’t realize how quickly we use water. It’s surprising how quickly it can get up to 100 gallons.”

Cost not an issue
The cost of the system was in no way a drawback for Brown and Riveras. They believe if they continue to do the right things for the environment, they’ll make their investment back in due time.

They also believe there are connective factors to having a clean car.

“Like it or not, a car will get dirty and what it gets dirty with is where it goes,” Brown said. “Internal combustion all around will cling to the car, cling to paint on the car. It becomes a carrier for all these petro pollutants.  They’ll stay on the car until it rains, and all chemicals go down street storm drains. It adds to pollution to have a dirty car.”

Along with environmentally friendly equipment, Brown and Riveras have done what they can to make their College Car Wash site landscape good for the environment.

“Having the filtration system is at the forefront, but we also have done drought landscaping, installed energy efficient lighting and we recycle all our plastic,” Brown said.

Their holding tanks are emptied twice a year by the Sonoma County Water Agency.

Brown and Riveras also will offer their place to groups for charity car washes.

They would rather have the charity washes on their site, where they have much more eco-friendly drainage systems rather than in the parking lot of a shopping center.

“Instead of not doing charity washes, do it at our wash where we can trap the bad stuff,” Riveras said.

Their “touchless” automatic wash is such where only water, soap and wax touch a car.

“We wanted touchless so it wouldn’t scratch paint,” Brown said. “And we felt the best place would be east coast, where they deal with more aggressive weather conditions. It’s a real efficient touchless machine and engineered in a way most people won’t see around here.”

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