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Car wash water goes round and round S

Eileen JoyceA truck makes its way through the car wash at the Browns Valley 76 Wednesday. Michael Dowling plans to open a similar car wash in Penn Valley this summer.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Penn Valley might have a car wash this summer. And it might use the same water all year.

Construction started Jan. 4 on a one-acre site adjacent to the Union 76 service station near the Penn Valley Post Office and should be completed by July.

Owner Michael Dowling plans to use the same water-recycling technology that he installed in his Browns Valley 76 station on Highway 20 in Yuba County.



“The big key for me was the recycling system,” Dowling said.

“I studied this for years,” Dowling said about his choice of a Dutch system that reuses water. “I couldn’t find anything in this country that would do what this would do.”




The recycling technology – called Rowafil – takes the water used in the car wash through a grill in the floor and into a settling tank. Heavy dirt is left behind as cleaner water goes into a second chamber. The water is then pumped into an aeration chamber. Hyper-aerating the water prevents bacteria growth and stagnant water smells.

The aerated water goes into a hydrocyclone, which filters particulates in the water down to five microns or less, which is higher than the industry standard of 15 microns.

The treated water then goes to a bio-remediation chamber where “little plastic gizmos” make a home for bacteria that cleans the water by eating soap, oil and wax.

The procedure produces clean water – cleaner than industry standards water, Dowling said – for rinsing cars.

“This is the same water I started with in April,” Dowling said.

Hal Holtz, a director on the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce, called the recycling technology “a plus for the area and preferable to a business that dirties the water and then flushes it down the sewer.”

“I think it’s definitely an indication of the growth that’s anticipated and that’s occurring in Penn Valley,” Holtz said.

The Autec’s Evolution-1 machine, coming soon to Penn Valley, uses a soft-cloth washing system or a touchless system or both, Dowling said.

“Some people don’t like to have any brushes touch their car,” Dowling said.

Dowling estimated he sells 60 to 70 car washes a day during the summer and 30 to 40 car washes a day during the winter.

Dowling estimates he will sell 80 to 100 car washes a day in Penn Valley because “it’s a more affluent community.”

The Penn Valley station will also have an express lube and a waiting room. Customers will be able to drive through the gas station and into the car wash and express lube, he said. A fence now separating the two properties will be removed.

Vehicles must use all 45 seconds of rinse time to get the soap off. That means proceeding slowly through the rinse to make sure there’s no soap left on the trunk.

“We sort of have to train customers,” Dowling said.

The Penn Valley car wash will also have a blower to dry cars, he said.


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