ALEXANDER, N.D. — Old records get smashed just about every day in the oil patch, so it's no real surprise that it now may be home to the world's largest truck wash.
At least that’s owner Jeff Schutz’s take on the scale of the Kwik n Kleen at the corner of U.S. Highway 85 and N.D. Highway 68 just outside Alexander.
He’s developed wash stations throughout the Midwest and a fleet of mobile wash units and he’s sure there isn’t a bigger truck wash anywhere on the planet in terms of speed and water capacity. He opened Kwik n Kleen four days ago, good timing since just about every rig out there is sporting a few layers of mud and grime from greasy roads and springtime slush.
If the $6 million wash is one for the Guinness World Records book, like Schutz says his research finds, it stands to reason everything about it is sized off the charts.
Trucks roll through a 200-foot-long wash bay spaced with electronic eyes that start and stop all the wash, chemical and rinse cycles along the full length.
But besides the sheer length and height of the wash, which occupies the highway corner with same dominance an indoor sports arena would, for Schutz, it’s all about the water.
There’s not a drain in the wash and he purposely designed it that way.
“That’s pretty incredible,” he said.
It likely is, considering a full semi truck wash requires 30,000 gallons of water at the rate of 450 gallons per minute when both truck wash bays and a car wash bay are running at the same time.
All that water isn’t cheap and nor is there an overwhelming supply off the Western Area Water Supply pipeline, which transports Missouri River water treated at Williston throughout the oil patch.
“Our water line is only this big,” he says, forming a 1-inch small circle with his thumb and index finger, cinching it even smaller to show how much water actually flows through.
Besides, Schutz said he liked the idea of going green at the same time he’s going clean.
So the wash is all about recycled water.
An area between the two truck bays has all the pumps, tanks and pipes of a municipal water treatment facility, including a large-scale reverse osmosis plant that provides the streak-free water that’s used in the final rinse.
But most of the space is used to collect used wash water in a settling pond bigger and deeper than a swimming pool where dirt and debris fall to the bottom and the cleanest surface water overflows into a separate pond that’s filtered and reused in the wash cycles.
Schutz says 98 percent of the water used in the wash is recycled and only 2 percent is fresh water used in the rinse cycles.
Every drop of water will recirculate hundreds of times and when too much builds up in the clean water holding pond, it’s sucked into tankers by another company, LBG Water Services, which treats the water for hydraulic fracturing in oil well completions.
That last piece, recycling recycled water, is a point of pride for Schutz. “I worked hard on that deal,” he said.
Truckers can pick through a menu of options, paying $125 for de-mudding the undercarriage to knock off as much as 1,000 pounds of built-up dead weight, to the “full meal deal,” as sales manager Chris Grieve calls it. That option, at $375, besides de-mudding, includes four guys who manually pressure wash and scrub the truck before the rinse cycle.
Start to finish, it takes about 23 minutes.
“It’s all about how quickly can you get through,” Grieve said.
The plan is to run the wash 24/7 and get the word out on remote electronic signs in Williston and Watford City that the Kwik n Kleen is open for business.
Schutz said he’s like any oil patch entrepreneur, hoping to make money at the same time he’s providing an important service.
“We’re providing a valuable service to these guys, who have to drive up to 100 miles or more to find a wash. This way they get rid of the extra weight, they get their tail and brake lights cleaned up so they’re not difficult to see and it helps with maintenance not having that mud in the wheels and up into the drive train,” Schutz said. “Sure, we want to make money, but there’re plenty of reasons to do this maintenance.”
And, he’s already told the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department and the North Dakota Highway Patrol that their white and brown patrol vehicles get a free and green wash any time any day.
“It’s good public service, a safety thing,” he said.