Maryland regulators have decided to allow carwash facilities to remain open even if they do not recycle 80 percent of their water, after an outcry by operators who said the state's recent water restrictions would put them out of business.
In response to an appeal by the industry, the Maryland Department of the Environment decided to allow carwashes to operate as long as they follow a new set of water conservation requirements.
Among those requirements are that they close on Tuesdays, reduce their water consumption by 10 percent and restrict certain optional services, such as washing the undercarriage of cars.
"The goal is to conserve water. The goal is not to put a single segment of industry out of business," said J.L. Hearn, director of water management administration for the Department of the Environment.
Hearn said the state had mistakenly believed that most carwashes have the recycling equipment necessary to reuse 80 percent of their water.
Tony de Lange, past president of the Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association, hailed the rule change as a way to conserve water without destroying the carwash industry.
"I do appreciate that now car washers don't have to worry about our employees getting a paycheck next week," de Lange said.
The rule change does not affect restrictions on washing vehicles at home; that still is prohibited.