Cape Town - 130902 - The City of Cape Town says informal car washes use/waste too much water. Pictured is a car wash/taxi holding area in Claremont. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is clamping down on informal car washes operating at taxi ranks and other transport interchanges in a bid to save water.

City officials say that too much water is being wasted, and much of this dirty or grey water is then discharged into the stormwater system.

A pilot project is to be launched in Subcouncil 20, which includes the Retreat interchange, to look at ways of managing water use more effectively.

Solomzi Mzamo, of the city’s utilities department, said this interchange did not have adequate facilities for drivers to clean their vehicles. Although taxi operators at this site were only given one bucket a day for car washing, a meter reading revealed that most of the water consumption was for public use.

Mzamo said there was “huge wastage” in Claremont, towards the main intersection, where cars were being washed in a rush. The area was also congested, and not suitable for car washing. Water was coming from an outside tap via a hosepipe without a control nozzle, he said.

“To make matters worse, the water runs all the time and the pipe is merely left on the ground.”

Possible solutions included the use of rubber mattresses to soak up the water and self-closing devices for hose pipes.

He said the city’s utilities department could work on temporary interventions, but that the transport department should look at more permanent solutions, including the provision of proper car wash facilities.

The city plans to formalise the car wash at the Retreat interchange in the next two years.

The mayoral committee member for utilities, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the city would engage with transport operators to “actively” bring down their water usage. He said the city could not call on residents to use water sparingly and then allow taxi operators and others to waste water at informal car washes.

Cape Argus