A drought-order deadline of August 9 looms for 140 retailers in the Thames Water area, who are hoping for a decision in their favour to avoid closure of their car-wash operations.

Sutton and East Surrey Water has already banned machines without a water recycling system, while the Environment Agency is pressing Southern Water to impose the restrictions of its drought order, which was granted in May.

Meanwhile, car wash company Atlantis has received encouraging news about its application to the Water Technology list to get water recycling systems on the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme, which would mean retailers could off-set the cost of the equipment against tax, and save up to £3,000.

Managing director Peter Spencer says he has been informed that a working party has been set up to take the application further. Spencer says the company has already taken orders for 15 water recycling systems - marketed as ’drought compliant’ as they use no more than 23 litres of fresh water a wash - as a direct result of the recent drought orders.