Former car wash as a tool against flooding

Constan Car Wash closed downTed Nolan

The American city of Columbia is considering utilizing a former car wash site to help alleviate local flooding issues. It would also solve several legal issues the local government has with the owners.

After having been in service for more than 70 years, the Constan Car Wash recently closed down. The historic location in South Carolina is thought to have been the first automated car wash in the city. One of the more colorful pieces of the business’ history is that a live tiger named ‘Happy‘ was once exhibited there and helped pave the way for Riverbanks Zoo. A local visitor wrote a lovely story about his memories on Constan.

The closing sign


Columbia city is currently in discussions to purchase the property, according to councilman Howard Duvall. If a deal is reached, potential plans include creating a detention pond, which could temporarily hold off stormwater during heavy rain events.

This could solve two flooding problems in the area. But perhaps equally important, it would also solve a few legal issues. Constan Car Wash sued the city in March of 2021 after it removed part of a wall, owners set up to address flooding issues. In response, the city claimed the wall was on city property and causing water to flow onto a local street, creating a danger for drivers. The case is still pending, court records show.

Climate change

The frequent floodings are probably a result of climate change. Like many other parts of the world, local governments try to mitigate the problem by building huge water tanks or detention ponds.

It seems rather ironic that a place where so much water was used in the past, will function in the future to store large amounts of water. Simply to prevent cars (and houses) getting dirty.

Photo’s: Ted Nolan

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Author: Rene Passet

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