By: Helsing Admin
A reader writes: I would like to know why it is appropriate for homeowners to have plants on their decks and use water from their homes to water them (often leaving a stream of mess for others to view), but an HOA rule prevents homeowners from using water from their homes to wash a vehicle?
Actually, not all associations allow plants on the decks, and I am aware of one association that not too many years ago had to replace a set of stacked decks because of dry rot caused by watering — at the cost of over $70,000. However, I do agree that generally in high-density communities there is an HOA rule that prohibits washing cars. In fact, that same HOA rule is starting to exist even in some new single-family home communities. In the vast majority of cases, this requirement is placed upon the developer as a condition of approval for the development of the community. Water quality control conditions become increasingly strict each year over concerns that water run-off from car washing and other activities, including normal rainfall, flows into the stormwater system that then flows untreated to our water sources. Car washing usually involves more than just plain water, allowing soap and other pollutants to flow along with the water. There are also some communities that do not want to burden the cost of common area water for car washing and the restriction exists, or originally existed, for budgetary reasons.
If this restriction came from the local government, there is probably little your association can do about it. If it did not, then it is possible to get a rule change (see this article on how to do that). It might also be possible to get the restriction (even from the local government) lifted if car washing stations are built and the resulting water is trapped so that it flows to the sanitary sewer system and not to the stormwater system. However, this may require votes of the membership as a capital improvement, and other considerations the association will have to research. The short answer is that these restrictions exist primarily because of water quality concerns, and such prohibitions are likely to worsen, not better, in future years.
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