Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 1, 2014

Bitter: City has no authority to close car washes

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — Despite pleas to conserve water, many residents took advantage of a rare sun-splashed day to wash their cars on Saturday.

It has become a source of frustration to many, including Ashland city manager Ben Bitter.

“There’s a little part of the innerchild in all of us to want to grab a snowball and throw it at them,” he said. “We continue to tell people to avoid that type of thing (washing cars). We ask them, as a good community partner, to patriciate with us to conserve water.”

However, Bitter said that’s all the city officials can do. “We don’t have any (legal) authority to close down (car wash) businesses. The state government has authority to close down businesses but we don’t.”

Bitter said city officials have spoken with several car wash owners and explained the situation. “I’m hopeful, based on some conversations, that they will be a willing partner with us.”

He did say that he understood that for some the car washes was also their livlihood and that many other businesses also have a need for water. Ideal weather conditions also made it a near-perfect day for washing the car under normal situations. Conservation of water, he said, is the key.

“If everyone does their part, it will make us better off in the long run,” Bitter said. “Be kind and thoughtful, mindful of your neighbors.”

Many frustrated citizens have been “less than polite with words” over those who are washing cars, Bitter said. “Some of those people have reached out to us about what our stance on the issue is. We don’t see a legal authority in which we can close down a business.”

Several in the Ashland area remained without water or had an extreme lack of water pressure because of the numerous leaks on Saturday. City workers have been actively trying to fix the problems, Bitter said.

Water will continue to be distributed at the ACTC parking lot off Oakview Road and in the center of Central Park. However, customers will have to start showing either a driver’s license that shows an Ashland address or a city water bill, Bitter said.

“A few people have taken advantage of the system,” Bitter said. “We want to make sure everybody who needs water has the ability to get it.”

The city has handed out hundreds of thousands of bottles of water since the water crisis began last week, he said.

Potable water is available to anyone at the water plant on 4040 Winchester Ave., but customers must bring their own containers, he said. That water would have to be boiled before drinking.

A boil water advisory is in effect for all of Ashland until further notice, he said.

Bitter also asked residents to be mindful when driving past an area where work is being done. “Crews are working really hard, but could use help from our customers and citizens driving by these sites. Please, use caution. We had a few people speedy by quickly, spray water in their faces and whatever else. Drive by slowly and help the workers get through these line breaks.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.