Nelson’s first step in understanding the water bills was to contact the City of Chicago's Department of Water Management. Because the CONRAC was built as two separate buildings, the Customer Service Building (CSB) and the Quick Turn-around Area (QTA), it was initially assumed that the two accounts corresponded to the two buildings, with the car washes in the QTA accounting for the disparity in usage between the two accounts.

However, when Nelson contacted the city's account representative, he learned that the two accounts were established for each of two water mains that serviced both buildings. One account was associated with a two-inch line and the other account was for an eight-inch line. However, the main conundrum remained: the metered usage for the two buildings still did not match up to the projected usage for the facility.

The QTA’s 10 car washes were running seven days a week, but they used nearly 75% recycled water, and the CSB housed only a dozen or so restrooms and a handful of water fountains. The water bill was just way too high.

After crunching the numbers, Nelson and the city's account representative hypothesized that if the facility’s water bill was determined by billing two water lines, the error could have been in metering the two-inch line at the eight-inch line rate.

A two-inch pipe has a capacity between 18 to 25 gallons per 100 feet, and an eight-inch pipe has capacity between 235 to 270 gallons per 100 feet. Essentially, if a two-inch line were to be calculated like an eight-inch line, it would add an additional zero to the metered usage each month.  300,000 gallons would be billed as 3,000,000 gallons! This seemed to be the most likely explanation for the high bills.

The city immediately sent technicians to examine the two lines to confirm that the two-inch line had been metered inaccurately. The following month, Conrac Managers MDW was able to return a combined credit of just over $65,000 from the City of Chicago to the rental car operators.

Next up for Nelson and the Midway team is conserving the facility’s energy usage. By fine-tuning the car wash equipment, they estimate a cumulative savings of $600 to $900 per month can be gained without compromising service. Nelson has been trending the adjusted electrical usage for the past several months, and initial data is promising. While there are many factors that may contribute to the kilowatt usage, the actual results have surpassed expectations each month to date.