Milton denies well request for car wash

Officials say town can't afford to give away water
Milton Town Council has denied a commercial water well request from Finish Line Car Wash owner Jim Parker. In February Parker said in light of the town's water shortage a private well would ensure the car wash would remain in business. Town officials said private commercial water wells contribute to revenue loss. BY HENRY J. EVANS JR.
April 28, 2014

Milton Mayor and Town Council have denied a request by the owner of Finish Line Car Wash for permission to drill a commercial water well. The panel voted at its April 7 meeting.

At the mayor and council’s February meeting it voted to table the well request pending input from the water committee and Pennoni Associates Inc., the town’s consulting engineering firm.

Finish Line owner Jim Parker in February said he wanted to drill the well because the town is experiencing a water shortage. He said without water he would be out of business.

Parker told town officials the automatic car wash, which opened in 2004, is open around the clock daily and is equipped to process used water and recycle it for additional washes.

At the February meeting Councilman Emory West, chairman of the Milton Water Committee, told Parker the town owns the water underneath it as stated in the town charter. Parker said he is aware the town owns the water.

Town officials say they are concerned about losing revenue because commercial well owners don’t pay for water the town owns and they use.

Mayor Marion Jones and councilmembers John Booros, John Collier, Kristin Patterson and West voted to deny the request; Councilman Michael Coté voted to approve it; and Councilwoman Esthelda Parker Selby abstained.

“I don’t think this town can afford to give away one more dime,” Booros said.

Wastewater from the car wash enters the town’s wastewater treatment system. City officials mentioned metering the quantity of wastewater the car wash produces, but quickly decided that was not part of the current discussion.

There was also a brief mention of establishing a bulk-rate for water from commercial wells, and the panel decided that, too, wasn’t part of the discussion.

Town officials said the car wash ranks second in water volume used behind Milton-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

In December mayor and town council voted unanimously in favor of permitting to drill a second private commercial well to accommodate a new packaging line at its new warehouse.

Brewmaster Tim Hawn said the town’s treated water could affect beer’s flavor, and the company prefers to use its own water to avoid fluoridation and chlorination.

Hawn said the second well is needed because the brewery couldn’t pump enough water from a single well once it reaches an annual production of 500,000 barrels, which could take five to six years. Dogfish planned to produce 202,000 barrels in 2013.