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Car washes host water-related causes

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This Swifty Car Wash in McDonough has a reclaim-water system that recycles part of the water used in the car- washing process.

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This Swifty Car Wash in McDonough has a reclaim-water system that recycles part of the water used in the car- washing process.

Local car washes have ignited campaigns to raise community awareness. As one promotes responsible outdoor-water use, another is advocating the support of those in dire need of clean drinking water.

"Wash Me Fast" in Stockbridge is campaigning to provide a longtime supply of drinking water to villages in Guatemala, Kenya, and India by Dec. 31.

The campaign aims to help hundreds, if not thousands, obtain clean drinking water, according to Jim Dudley, co-owner of the Stockbridge car wash. He began the local charity in 2010, calling it "Clean Car. Clean Water."

Inspired to do more than operate a successful business, Dudley said he wanted to positively impact others, using his business's use of the precious resource to provide to those most in need.

Last year, Dudley donated to non-profit organizations like Clean Water for Haiti, based in Pierre Payen, Haiti, and Pray America, Inc., based in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. The organizations provide inexpensive water filtration systems to needy families, in more remote parts of the world.

Pray America Assistant Director Tammy Huizenga noted that, for about $100, a family in Guatemala can have clean drinking water for two years. Huizenga said the organization -- which was created in 2003 by American missionaries -- provides inexpensive, clean water system programs to local Guatemalans, who otherwise would have to purify their water through more costly and time-consuming means.

Dudley's latest efforts come in the form of the "Wash Away Thirst" campaign, which includes a partnership with the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, a Rotary group that builds wells and provides filters to harvest rainwater in needy areas of the world.

Closer to home, one local car wash is advocating for water conservation and responsible stewardship of water use in the environment.

Swifty Car Wash, in McDonough, participates in the Water Savers Program, a creation of the International Carwash Association to help professional car washes promote their environmentally-responsible business practices.

"The intention is to educate consumers," said Swifty Car Wash General Manager Rob Buechner.

The Water Savers Program provides car washes and its customers with water savings and environmental stewardship information, said Buechner, who manages car washes throughout the region, including Swifty Car Wash locations in Forest Park, Jonesboro, McDonough, and Stockbridge.

Buechner said participants in the program must be able to demonstrate that their professional car wash location reclaims or recycles water for future wash cycles and discharges effluent to a sanitary sewer or leech field.

"In McDonough, we have what we call an express car wash," he said. "And at that location, we have what you call a water reclaim system. The reclaim takes a certain amount of waste water and takes it through a separation system."

The reclaim water system reduces overall water usage by roughly 35 percent, he said. While the Swifty Express Car Wash in McDonough recycles water, other self-service Swifty Car Wash locations use less water overall than residential use, and have means of sanitizing the water before it is released back into stormwater systems.

"You conserve water by using a professional car wash, either the express type or the self-service car washes," Buechner said. "In those situations, as compared to driveway washes, we use less water to wash, and the soaps that we use are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner."

A hefty amount of pollutants in water ways and reservoirs is caused by runoff from roadways, parking lots, and driveways, according to Nick Griffiths, the interim director of the Henry County Stormwater Department.

"The big concern is that you're washing your car for a reason," Griffiths said. "You're getting all that dirt and grit off your car, and goes back into the environment and into our reservoirs. The water does goes through a treatment process, but you're obviously better off not to have that in the environment."

Information about the Water Savers Program can be found online at www.WashWithWaterSavers.com. To learn more about Dudley's "Clean Car. Clean Water." campaign visit www.cleancarcleanwater.com. For more about "Was Away Thirst," visit www.washawaythirst.org.