Brownsville issues ordinance on new car washes in effort to conserve water

By: Stefany Rosales

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Car washes are popping up on nearly every corner throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

In the city of Brownsville, there are more than 30 car washes, but a new city rule will limit future car washes.

"It is a little bit too much, I don't know," Brownsville resident Gaby Araiza said.

Brownsville city officials have noticed the abundance of car washes popping up all over the city.

That's why they put a new city ordinance in place. Its purpose is to conserve water in the future.

"I think there's too many already. They're using up our water," Brownsville resident Nelly Garza said.

This new rule doesn't affect car washes already in business, but it does change any new car washes that could open in the future.

As of March 30, the combined Amistad and Falcon Reservoir levels were at 22.55 percent. With the Valley's water source remaining low, the city hopes this ordinance will help them in the future.

"This is not just about getting through 2024, it's about what's happening in the next five years, 10 years, 15 years down the line," City Commissioner Roy De Los Santos said.

De Los Santos explained, under the ordinance, no new car washes can be built within five miles of an existing one.

The rule apples to future automatic and, what the city calls, hand held car washes, which is where you wash your own car.

If the new business is built outside that five-mile radius, they have to install a water recycling system. Of the 34 car washes in Brownsville, only six currently have one installed.

While the rule isn't changing current businesses, De Los Santos says they're on a mission to conserve water.

"We're doing our part of what will be the needs of water for our citizens. Most especially for basic needs, that's our top priority," De Los Santos said.

The change is permanent for now, but officials say it could change if water conditions improve.


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