Cape Town clamps down on car washes

Cape Town is clamping down on "informal" car washes in an effort to preserve water, as it examines more effective ways of managing water use.

Authorities say that too much water is being wasted at the unofficial car washes, many of which are set up around the city taxi ranks. They claim that hose pipes run freely without being switched off and that much of the dirty water ends up into the stormwater system, which keeps the city from becoming waterlogged during heavy rains and conserves a water supply.

Cape Town's utilities department is to launch a pilot project at a taxi rank at the Retreat Interchange in Subcouncil 20, west of the city centre, to focus on ways of decreasing water loss.

The department said that possible solutions to the situation include the installation of self-closing devices for hose pipes, and the use of rubber mattresses to soak up the water, stopping it from contaminating the city's stormwater system which is linked to surrounding natural wetlands.

However officials also said that these were only temporary solutions to deal with a problem that should be tackled on a more permanent basis by the city's transport department, with the provision of proper car wash facilities.