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:
"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."
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.