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Saving water at the car/bus wash

Wash n shine
Wash N Shine Pāpāmoa recycles 75% of the dirty water generated on site from vehicle washing

A number of Tauranga businesses are finding innovative ways to save water when it comes to washing cars, trucks, and buses.

The new Challenge service station at Tauriko has installed an automatic carwash that can recycle up to 90% of the water used, depending on how dirty the vehicle is.

Owner AJ Power says he gets a lot of carwash customers with vans and work vehicles which they don’t like washing on their driveway because of the mess.

“We get a lot of muddy vehicles coming through and at times we have to shovel up the dirt and chuck it on the garden so that it doesn’t go down the drain.”

Tauranga City Council Water Services Manager Peter Bahrs says using a commercial carwash is a much better option than washing your vehicle at home, especially one which recycles water.

“Run-off from washing vehicles and equipment contains pollutants including detergents, dirt, oil, concrete, fuel residue, metals, paint and more. Washing your car at a commercial carwash, the dirty wash water goes through a petrol and oil interceptor prior to discharge into council’s wastewater system.”

Wash N Shine Pāpāmoa also offers a carwash using a system that recycles 75% of the water used on site.

Owner Alan Lawrence says dirty water is collected in an underground tank and pumped into a ceramic water filtration system. It then passes through two finishing bowls, water softeners and finally through a reverse osmosis system which takes the chemicals out and makes the water spot free.

“Our customers get spotless results and there is no need to hand dry. We are very happy with the system and looking forward to the long-term benefits of being a sustainable business,” says Alan.
Local bus companies are also doing their bit to save water, and money.

When Tranzit Coachlines BOP (formerly Bethlehem Coachlines) built its depot in 2008, it installed a 50,000-litre rainwater tank to collect free rainwater from the roof. All water used in the workshop is sourced from the rainwater tank, and a pressure pump was added to help wash the buses.

Tranzit has a fleet of 60 vehicles, including school buses and tour coaches. The school buses are cleaned weekly but the tour coaches need to be cleaned daily as they have to be well-presented and have clean windows so passengers can take photos.

Company founder Neil Jamieson says each vehicle is 12m long and takes about half an hour of water flow (50-100 litres) to wash.

“We don’t have water running all the time. We wet them, apply detergent and then hose them off.

“We’ve only run out of rainwater twice since 2008 and then it was only about a week before we had more rain. The tank will last us without rain for about three weeks in a busy season when we have cruise ships and school buses operating.”

In Tauranga, NZ Bus owns a fleet of 135 buses that each require 180 litres of water to wash. The company’s bus washing machines recycle around 122 litres, or 66%, of that water.

NZ Bus assistant chief engineer Lee Robinson says an average bus wash can take anywhere between nine and 12 minutes, but older bus washes are being changed to static or drive-through washes, which reduces the time down to three minutes.

“Bus washes are constantly evolving and becoming more efficient and that’s because everyone is focused on reducing the resource it takes to put the bus through the bus wash, including power and water usage.”

Posted: Apr 26, 2023,
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