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Bob and Steve’s doing its part in water conservation

Jesse Raudenbush, General Manager of Bob and Steve’s, is pictured by the car wash. In an effort to help conserve water, Bob and Steve’s will not be selling its top two washes. Aaron Hagen, Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — With a worsening water situation, local business Bob and Steve’s Shell is doing what it can to help. 

With well levels nearly 12 feet below the 16-year average, cutting back on water usage in the car wash was the right thing to do, according to General Manager Jesse Raudenbush.

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With that in mind, Raudenbush set up a meeting with Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain.

“I (met) with him to kind of see where we were at,” Raudenbush said. “I have been watching the water reports and stuff like that. The next step, he (said), was to cut back on things that would affect certain people’s livelihoods. I kind of thought, ‘That’s probably me.’”

There is currently a ban on all non-essential water use in Worthington. If the well conditions don’t improve, Hain has said, other options may be considered. That could include limiting or prohibiting commercial car washes.

“I set up a short meeting with him to see how bad the situation really is and how much time we have to keep operating the car wash if things don’t improve,” Raudenbush said. “We started plugging in some rough estimates of different numbers on how much water we use and some things we could do to save.”

“It looked like by not selling the top two washes, we could save at least 30 percent of our usage. I felt like it was a small enough sacrifice on our part that it really wasn’t going to hurt us too bad, but it was going to be a significant enough savings for water that it would be the responsible thing to do.”

Bob and Steve’s normally offers four levels of car washes in its bay on its property at 1408 Oxford St. Now, the top two washes are no longer offered.

“You are still going to get clean,” assured Raudenbush. “The top washes do a double soak and double rinse front and back — the front for the bugs and back to take care of gravel dust and stuff like that. Now it’s a single pass. It does a nice job, but if you have gravel dust caked on an inch thick on your back window, it’s probably not going to get it all. In the top one, we have the triple foam polish surface conditioner, and we’re not applying that now. It takes a lot of water to rinse that off.”

So far, he said, the response has been mostly positive.

“(To) people who maybe haven’t been affected by the water shortage, it kind of brings the point across that there is a bad shortage right now and maybe they wouldn’t have noticed it otherwise,” Raudenbush said.

While the revenue from the car wash may be down, the overall number of customers is not.

“In our overall wash numbers, no,” Raudenbush said. “Our overall revenue is a little down on the car wash for not selling the higher-priced packages. But overall, we’re handling it nicely.”

Raudenbush said the business has changed its water-use habits as well.

“I used to clean the walls and floor out there with a power washer,” he said. “Now, I sneak in there when somebody is washing their car and use a squeegee to clean.”

Hain said he appreciates the proactive approach.

“I said it would be a wonderful gesture, and if nothing else, hopefully it will delay the need for us to take more stringent measures,” Hain said.

And, while it may be an inconvenience for customers, Raudenbush is grateful for the services his business can continue to provide.

“We’re pretty thankful that we’re still operating at all,” he said.

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.