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Record set straight on water use at Prime Shine
City made inaccurate statement at City Council meeting
car wash
Prime Shine has two locations in Ceres, this one at Whitmore and Mitchell, and they don't use as much water as stated at Monday's City Council meeting. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Prime Shine Car Wash doesn't use as much water per month at its two Ceres facilities as a city official stated at this week's City Council meeting.

Jeremy Damas, the city of Ceres' Deputy Public Works Director, gave a report to the council on April 27 on way the city can meet the state's mandate to reduce water consumption by 28 percent in response to the drought.

"We need everyone to reduce as much as possible," said Damas.

During his talk, Vice Mayor Bret Durossette asked how much water was used at the two Prime Shine Car Wash facilities in Ceres. Damas said the facilities used 5 million to 5.5 million gallons per month. Later it was determined that the figure was wrong, taking all Ceres car washes into account.

Damas redid the calculations and determined that the Hatch Road Prime Shine used 1.8 million gallons from Jan. 1 to April 29, or 450,000 gallons per month. The new facility at Mitchell and Whitmore used 1.5 million gallons for the same period, or 375,000 gallons per month.

Ceres also has other car washes, including a self-service facility on Mitchell Road, Premier Car Wash on Service Road, a car wash at Mitchell Gas & Lube and a car wash at the 7-Eleven at the southeast corner of Service and Mitchell roads.

Evan Porges of Prime Shine said his company recycles 70 percent of the water used in washing customers' vehicles.

He said Prime Shine uses 20 to 25 gallons of fresh water per carwash and 40 to 45 gallons of recycled water. Typically recycled water is used below the windows or underneath the car.

"In the last two years we've reduced our fresh water use by about 30 plus percent by shutting down fresh water equipment. We're being proactive. You'll also notice this year we've not planted our fresh flowers that we always plant out by our monument signs. We've put bark down and capped the sprinklers."

Porges said that some who wash their cars at home can use up to 140 gallons washing their vehicle at home.

Damas said education is key to reducing water consumption in all account holders who get water from the city. The school district responded to published statistics that Ceres Unified School District is exceeding their target by 22 million gallons in the year. That figure is based on an average of four gallons of water being used per square foot of lawn.

"We didn't even know we were going over," said Jay Simmons, assistant superintendent for the CUSD.

"There is an issue with the school district because they are also mandated by the state for a certain amount of grass, they have to have a certain amount of growth, a certain color of green basically because of the kids and for their health reasons," said Damas. "So we're trying to work out those issues with the school (district). We have to come to a happy median somehow."

The city said it plans on reducing everyone's water use, whether it's a commercial account, irrigation account, or residential unit. The city is also contemplating ways to get inmates at the Stanislaus County Jail west of Ceres from excessive toilet flushing that is costing three million gallons a day or close to 50 million gallons per month. Damas said he heard that some inmates are flushing toilets for amusement, which could prompt the city and county to enact controls over water use.

Because it's the biggest user, residential consumption will be a big target.

Outdoor watering of one residential lawn of 4,000-square-foot irrigated area from April through September uses 100,000 gallons.

The city has set targets for every household in Ceres in terms of water use. They include:

• Using 6,250 gallons or less from January through March;

• Using 23,000 gallons or less from April through September;

• Using 6,250 gallons or less from October through December;

Damas said if every target is met, Ceres would achieve a 14 percent reduction in water use, or 298 million gallons for the year.

Eliminating all outdoor watering and letting everything die would save 814 million gallons, said Damas, but nobody at City Hall is suggesting that.

The city of Ceres estimates that a household of four persons in a 2,500 square foot home uses 75,000 gallons per year, or 6,250 gallons per month. Showers account for 70 percent of water use, while toilet slushing takes four percent.

Damas said another option is to reduce water used by businesses by issue warnings and fines.

Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra said the topic of water conservation is frustrating for him since Ceres has already achieved major water savings since 2008.

"If we would have done nothing and skated along like everybody else then we wouldn't be needing to do much (now)," said Vierra.

He also noted how agriculture is not being told to ratchet down on use.