What a waste

Really, Durango? Two new car washes during a megadrought?

The saying goes: “You only realize the value of something once it’s gone.” When talking about our precious water resources in the West, that is a terrifying thought. Flushing the toilet, brushing your teeth, bathing – not to mention the water we drink to survive – all comes from a finite resource: snow. And now that we are getting less and less of it each year, and the uber dry soils are soaking it up before it can even reach waterways, we need to be smarter than ever about how we use this valuable resource.

From resources I found, a typical automatic car wash can use between 35 and 70 gallons of water per car to wash. Multiply that by 100 cars per day and you’re upwards of 6,000 gallons per day down the drain along with all the chemicals and soaps. Even if the car wash recycles the water, which happens infrequently, they are still using water we don’t have to waste.

On average, each person uses 80-100 gallons per day for home use. The largest chunk of that goes to flushing the toilet. I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for our sewer system. Do I think improvements could be made in what type of water (ideally non-potable) is used to flush a toilet, yes, but that’s not my goal here.

I’m here to cast a shameful finger at the City of Durango for approving not one, but TWO new commercial car washes during a megadrought. Both are on the south end of town about a mile apart from each other. Given that there are at least six commercial car washes that I can think of (and possibly more), what in the world makes the city think we need two more? The city should be the one leading the charge in educating residents and tourists alike that our water is precious and finite.

I do realize that at times cars need to be washed, but the city should not be encouraging it during a megadrought by approving the construction of two new car washes. Apparently, the city managers who approved this decision are OK with not having enough water to drink, bathe and flush.

Kara Armano, Hesperus

Editor’s Note: Scott Shine, the City of Durango’s assistant director of community development, said the car washes are on properties that are zoned to allow that use, and the projects met development standards. Long story short: you can’t just deny a project because you don’t like what it is. But we get it – in a town that’s strapped topographically with so many needs, two new car washes seems pretty... ill-advised­.