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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Two Salt Lake County councilmen are proposing to make it a crime for residents to wash their cars at home.
Salt Lake City is working on a tiered plan that could include a similar restriction if the drought worsens.
"In an era of drought, it is not a good idea to wash your car in a driveway, a back yard or the front lawn," County Councilman Joe Hatch said Monday. "That is a bad use of limited resources."
Hatch and Councilman Randy Horiuchi plan to present a draft ordinance to the council. Horiuchi said "99.9 percent of the people in the county are law-abiding citizens and if they know there's a law, they'll comply."
However, repeat violators could be fined up to $750. Business offenders could face a $1,000 penalty.
In Salt Lake City, public utilities officials expect to complete a comprehensive plan soon for conserving and maintaining water levels this summer. As part of the phased-in strategy, home car washes may be prohibited, department director LeRoy Hooton Jr. said.
City residents have been asked to heed voluntary restrictions the past two years, Hooton says, but those rules could be tightened. "If the situation warranted, then there would be mandated restrictions and there would be civil penalties," he said.
Mark Goddard, owner of the eight Supersonic Car Wash outlets in Salt Lake County and president of the Utah Car Wash Association, said studies show a garden hose left on for 10 minutes can expel 66 gallons of water. He said his commercial car washes use less than 30 gallons a vehicle.
Some county officials are not sure the proposed ban is a wise first step.
"We do have to look comprehensively at what we do as a community regarding water," County Councilman Cortlund Ashton said. "I would support looking at some kind of phased-in restrictions, but to just right now say we're going to start with car washes is a little intrusive. Are we going to start measuring the length of showers and legislating showers now?"
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)