BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Many businesses have struggled due to the drought, but commercial car washes have seen an uptick in their number of customers.
“Today there’s kind of a lot of cars around here!” said Catherine Ndegwa, a customer at the car wash on Palisades Blvd.
She said she lives in an apartment so she doesn’t have the option to wash her car a home even if it wasn’t prohibited by the drought restrictions. She brought her car in today because of all the activity a the car wash.
“It was kind of busy and the attendants were talking to people, so I decided to come in too,” said Ndegwa.
Ryan Thompson is a regular customer, and he said the drought likely has played a role in the increased business.
“I think they run a really good business here so that’s probably part of it. I could imagine that the drought is certainly a reason why more folks are coming here though, so they can conserve water at home,” said Thompson. “It makes sense.”
The Birmingham Water Works Board is currently adding a surcharge for excess water usage at 400% the normal rate. Those charges will start showing up after the December 4th meter readings.
“We have some great customers. We believe that they will listen to the things that we’ve recommended and they will accept those ordinances and this drought plan and help us not get to stage 5,” said Darryl Jones, Assistant General Manager at Birmingham Water Works.
But there are also penalties. If you’re caught violating any of the restrictions, you may also be violating a municipal code in your city.
“Those different cities have the authority to encourage customers to abide by the ordinance by issuing citations or fines,” said Jones.
Certain businesses, like the car wash, are allowed to operate normally for now. And it may actually help them get new regular customers in the end.
The area hasn’t yet reached a Stage 5 Exceptional Drought Emergency, but if it did, that would put an end to all non-essential outdoor water use, including by a commercial car wash.