Creekside reassignment: On schools being good by being well(-off)
East Durham home tour an "Uplifting" experience

Pretty precious Porsches in the parched Piedmont?

Update: ABC 11 (WTVD) picked up this story for their Tuesday Jan. 29 newscast. See their web site for streaming video and a transcript.

A BCR reader sent in the following photos and complaint last week for your consideration:

Nduke_porsche_1 "There's a facility at 111 N Duke St... that was taking advantage of Wednesday's warmer water to wash at least three Porsches. No water recycling to speak of--one of the photos attached shows the extreme amount of runoff.

I don't like being a nag, but it seems that given the current climate, washing your cars in a totally wasteful manner is just ridiculous."

And just what are a bunch of Porsches doing getting washed in Brightleaf Square?

We're not 100% sure, but the most likely explanation seems to be that they live there. The dear, departed Blazer Manpurse noted at Bullsh@t last year that 111 N. Duke is the home of the Ingram Collection, a private auto collection belonging to one Bob Ingram, vice chairman for pharmaceuticals with GlaxoSmithKline, which of course has a large RTP-area presence.

From the Porsche Club of America - Hurricane Region website:

"Bob has understandably let us know that no pictures are to be taken while visiting the collection. It is also very important, because the cars in the Ingram Collection are not roped off, that people do not touch or open any of the cars. Additionally, the Collection management asks that people be cognizant of buttons, belt buckles and purses around the cars.

The Collection is located behind Fish Mongers and Toreros on Main St in down town Durham. The building is coffee colored and has a black awning with 111 N. Duke St on it that faces Gregson Street."

If these cars actually are part of the Ingram Collection... well, hey, it's clear to me that if you're the kind of dude who doesn't want any belt buckles or pesky fingertips to come close to your paint job, you naturally might want to wash your car every now and then, too.

But I somehow don't think it's too much to ask that folks consider using one of our fine self-service car wash facilities in the Bull City, many of which have on-site water recycling that mitigates the impact of car washing on our strained water resources.

For the record, the City of Durham currently finds itself under "Stage IV: Severe Mandatory Conservation" as of Dec. 3, which includes the following 'Mandatory Measure' -- "Do NOT Wash any motor vehicle or other type of mobile equipment. Any person regularly engaged in the business of washing motor vehicles and any commercial car wash facility shall be permitted to use water for such purposes, when 50% water savings are documented."

Nduke_porsche_2

Of course, it's possible that the water used here came from rain barrels on the roof, or perhaps -- given the Collection's apparently persnickety preservation of their Porsches' perfect polish -- emanates not from Bull City's potable collection, but instead from rare Italian underground springs, bottled and shipped across the oceans to meet the car-care needs of Porsche owners everywhere.

And naturally (and more seriously), the water could have come from one of the mobile wash companies that have applied for a Stage IV license, documenting that they're still achieving a 50% reduction in water use, or that they're using private well water, etc.

Even so, it sure as heck doesn't look so good to see cars being washed out in a public parking lot in the midst of the "Worst Drought Ever."

Of course, appearances and propriety will get far less important should we end up at one of the more severe drought restrictions -- e.g., an increase to Stage V ("Rationing"), Stage VI ("Thank You For Shopping Kroger - Our Bottled Water Delivery Is Scheduled For Thursday"), or the little-known-but-feared Stage XLII ("Walk Around With Your Mouth Opens When It Rains And Spit It Into The Little River").

You'll know if we make it there -- I'll be the tall guy in the self-checkout line at the Kroger.

Comments

Jim

For several consecutive weekends a few guys have been operating a mobile car wash at the Compare Foods at Club and Roxboro. Anyone know who to call concerning Stage IV permits and enforcement. I mean, should I walk up and ask to see their permit? I wouldn't know what one looked like, but I suppose I could verify it on Monday. Then what? No permit, call 911?

barry

You could call Durham One-Call (560-1200), or fill out the form on this page:
http://durhamnc.gov/departments/wm/water_report_form.cfm

the guys at the compare Foods have been there for more than "a few consecutive weekends."

btw - the complete list of Stage IV exemptons is here:
http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/departments/wm/s4_license_holders.cfm

crc32

The mental image of someone washing their car with bottles of San Peligrino was simultaneously hilarious and profoundly disturbing... I just can't shake that nagging suspicion that it could happen.

anonymous

My experiences with the folks in that building have been uniformly bad, so why am I not surprised that they're pissing away water in the middle of a drought? They forced Fishmonger's to close 3 or 4 times while they were renovating their building because customers couldn't eat in the dust and chemical fumes that were coming through the intervening wall. They're rude about parking: for instance, no one can park underneath their windows? They already took a bunch of spaces out of that lot when they built their Gothic-looking entry. And how much would you like to bet that Mr. Ingram is getting tax deductions for owning and running a business that's essentially a garage for his personal collection of cars? Sheesh.

durham car guy

The Ingram collection's detailer (or at least the company that Mr. Ingram gave me a card from) is not on the list Barry posted above. Thats a GT3RS, it's a new one (and compared to the rest of the collection, a dime a dozen), just drive the stupid thing.

Mr. Ingram does run a legitimate business specializing in Porsches, http://theaircooledguys.com, it's not just a tax deduction front, but such collections do exist.

I think the bottled water from Fiji I see for sale at Barnes&Nobel would be better for washing cars, San Peligrino is a bit high in minerals, you'll end up with water spots.

Dave N.

Until we get tiered water rates in place, Mr. Ingram really should be working harder to conserve water.

Of course, once we decide how much water should cost at various levels of consumption, Mr. Ingram and others of his income bracket will merely have to decide whether they can afford pricey water. If so, they can quite rightly use all they like - as they will theoretically be paying a rate sufficiently high to pay for whatever capital improvements are necessary to maintain and expand upon our water resources and reserves.

hmmm...

Tiered Rates = A Powerful Incentive to Conserve ... for Poor Folk.

Yurlinda Higginbotham

If anyone cares, the mobile wash guys at Compare/Big Lots phone number is 919-608-8295.

Complaint sent to H2O police.

KeepDurhamDifferent!

What Dave N. said. Once again, the failure lies at the feet of our local government in that we are the only triangle community unable to implement tiered rates (at least until a systems upgrade that I'm sure will run overbudget).

As to the tiered rates only promoting conservation among the poor, I disagree. Curmudgeonly types such as myself are sick and tired of getting sanctimonious diatribes about water conservation on the local listservs (if it's yellow, let it mellow -- too much information, thank you very much). If I didn't know better I'd let my faucets run all day, just to make the situation that more dire so that we can finally get some solution to the problem. Certainly this would be better than some anti-sprawl, anti-growth miguided legislation.

Anyway, my point is that I don't use much water in the first place (as one look at my yard will confirm), but while I can certainly afford to use tons of it the implementation of tiered rates will provide a powerful reason to conserve for this customer.

All others who can afford it should wash their cars three times a day, for all I care. And you can have my simpsons-go-to-japan bidet toilet seat when you pry it out from under my cold, dead posterior.

Will

You know the tiered-rates do beg the question of the have vs. the have-nots. I don't have an opinion about this (yet) but I'm curious as to what others are thinking. A lot of folks seem pro-tier but will that create a divide? Will certain parts of the city experience further decline in quality-of-life/property values because they can't/won't afford to keep their lawns green vs. those in other areas who have and spend the $ for it? (my yard is completely dead - including all the landscaping I paid $2,000 for last year - FYI).

When gas prices are raised - it is the middle to lower - classes that are most impacted. Is water somehow different? Would a large, poor family just keep getting poorer because they have more bodies to clean, more clothes to wash?

Michael Bacon

A few of points, Will:

1) If we emulate Cary, the lowest tier will be cheaper than our current rates. You have to use a lot of water for the bill to get significantly higher.

2) The most economic depressed areas of our city are those dominated by .2 acre lots. Conversely, the newer areas are filled with .4 and .5 acre lots. It takes a lot more water to landscape a bigger lot -- in fact, that's one of the biggest drivers behind our water usage.

3) As part of this, selling low flow shower heads and toilet water savers cheap or giving them away should be a key part, as it has been in the past. You give people both the carrot and the stick.

Mike Woodard

I didn't see the story, but I understand this made the TV news yesterday. Has BCR become show prep for the local media folks??????

Raleigh does not have tiered rates. By extension, this would include the other towns in Wake County, except Cary. Cary, which runs its own water system, and OWASA used tiered rates.

And Raleigh is 18 months away from being able to implement them. Why? Billing system upgrade. Based on the emails I received and on readers' letters in the N&O regarding Raleigh's status, I would really like to see the emails Mayor Meeker and the Raleigh Council are receiving. I bet they make ours look tame.

Improved water billing, including tiered rates, has been on Durham's radar for a while, which was one of the driving reasons the administration began implementation of the new financial system in '03. (As Kevin has noted here before, I work on Duke's enterprise financial system for my "real" job.) There is a team in place that runs the City system already, so there should not be any cost overruns.

As always, BCR readers pose a lot of great questions, suggestions, and thoughts. A tiered-rate structure can address low-wealth residents, so we hopefully won't have a water divide. But we do need to guard against tiered rates being the panacea for our water shortage. The literature is mixed on the question of whether or not tiered rates reduce consumption. That is why we need to include tiered rates in a multi-faceted approach to providing water in the years/decades to come.

Mike Woodard

Kevin Davis

Right you are, Mike -- this story ran on ABC 11's news last night. The story is viewable at http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=5922452 (I've added the link to the story as well.)

Thanks for the perspective on what's needed in your experience to impact the drought locally. I winced a bit at the Indy's coverage of the subject in this week's new issue -- which, while correct in noting the failure of the city to take appropriate action after the 2001-02 drought, spends a little too much time harping on the "Apocalypse Now" scenario for my liking. A well-researched and -interviewed article by Cat Warren, who's a good writer over there, but I somehow walked away with many of the same concerns I had over the Indy's coverage of the DPAC a few months ago.

Chuck Clifton

Regarding the rogue car washers in the local shopping center parking lots I made a call to Durham One Call on this about a month ago. Apparently, many of these folks buy recycled water -- and that's okay. Of course, this is silly because if it is not *being* recycled then we only get the benefit of its recycling once. So I'm not sure I agree with the "buy recycled water" policy. I'm quite proud of my dirty car. I wish others would be.

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