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Sustainable water management for hotels

Published 29 April 2024

Sustainable water management is a global issue crucial to our ecosystems and economies. Yet we’re facing growing concerns about water scarcity and pollution, which means we urgently need to start managing our water more sustainably. But what is sustainable water management and how can we make a difference?

Here, we uncover why thinking about water, beyond a monthly water bill, is crucial to becoming more mindful about water usage, especially in the hospitality industry.

Let’s dive straight in.

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What is sustainable water management?

 

Sustainable water management refers to responsible and efficient use, conservation and protection of water resources. It’s about making sure there is enough fresh and clean water to meet present needs, without compromising on future generations and the water they will need in years to come.

Everyone on the planet should have access to clean water, whether for drinking, sanitation purposes, industrial or agricultural needs, which is why we need to make sure we have sustainable water strategies and tactics in place.

Because 97% of earth’s water is in the oceans only 3% is available as drinking water. Not only that…

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With stats like this, it’s no wonder we need to care for the water we do have access to and find ways to future-proof our water-usage to make sure it’s available for generations to come. It’s not always as easy as it sounds though, and dealing with water management challenges is a bit like tackling plastic waste; both involve complex issues that affect all of us:
  • Conservation and efficiency: Just like we try to use less plastic and recycle more, conserving water and using it wisely can reduce pressure on our water sources. Things like replacing bathroom fittings with water-saving options and encouraging water-saving practices for guests and employees are all ways to help conserve water.
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  • Pollution control and treatment: We need to stop plastic from polluting our environment, and we also need to keep our water clean. This means controlling things like wastewater from laundry, kitchens, and other operations and installing effective water treatment systems that can help minimise the impact of hotel activities on water quality.
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  • Public awareness and participation: Hotels can educate guests and staff about water conservation practices. Displaying information in rooms about reusing towels, providing water-saving tips, and organising sustainability initiatives can empower guests to contribute to water conservation efforts during their stay, but that should be just the start. Teaching people about the importance of saving water and protecting water sources can make a big difference. Bring your guests back-of-house to showcase how their efforts amplify your water conservation practices throughout the property.
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  • Integrated water resource management: Just as addressing plastic waste requires collaboration across supply chains, hotels need integrated water management strategies. By thinking about factors like local water availability, climate conditions, and guest needs, hotels can develop comprehensive water management plans. This may involve rainwater harvesting, water recycling systems, and engaging with local communities to ensure sustainable water use. See the Grootbos case study to see what they did to save thousands of litres of water they didn’t know was leaking into the ground.
We’ve tapped into a few ways you can be more mindful about water usage and how the hospitality industry can make a difference, but let’s look at how hotels can reduce water usage in more detail.

How can hotels reduce water usage?

 

A hotel can use an average of 1,500 litres of water per room, per day. That’s a lot of water! And we bet a lot of that is going to waste and not being used efficiently. So how can hotels reduce the amount of water that’s being used? Let’s take a look.

Reducing plastic waste in travel and tourism industries around the world.
  • Create a water management strategy: Implement a strategy that looks at water usage and identify the areas that could be improved. The success of a water management strategy depends on a plan that is well-defined with achievable goals. Using a sustainable management platform can help you track, monitor and report on your activity, letting you know when you’re doing well and encouraging you to make improvements when you need a little help.

 

  • Install water-efficient fixtures: Replace older plumbing fixtures with water-efficient alternatives such as low-flow showerheads, aerators on taps, and dual-flush toilets. These fixtures significantly reduce water usage without compromising guest comfort. A leaky tap can waste around 400 litres of water a day, so it’s worth making sure your hotel fittings are water-tight!

 

  • Create water recycling systems: Install recycling systems to reuse water from sinks, showers and laundry activities to reduce the demand on potable water sources.

 

  • Choose sustainable food & beverage practices: Encourage sustainable practices in the kitchen by minimising water used in food preparation and dishwashing. Swapping to scraping dishes instead of pre-rinsing them before loading them into dishwashers can help reduce water usage. These small changes can make a big difference overall.

 

  • Collaborate with water conservation programs: Join forces with local water authorities and environmental organisations to participate in water conservation activities and initiatives.

 

There are many benefits to being a sustainable business and by making simple changes and integrating water conservation into everyday operations, hotels can make a significant impact in reducing water usage.

 

What’s the difference between water management, water conservation and water sustainability?

 

Water management, conservation and sustainability are all terms that are mentioned when talking about water usage, but although they sound similar, do they all mean the same thing? Let’s find out.

Water Management aims to ensure that water is used efficiently and fairly to meet various needs while taking care of the environment. It involves strategies and policies to make sure water is used efficiently. This includes activities such as water supply planning, infrastructure development (e.g., dams, reservoirs, pipelines), water treatment and distribution, wastewater management, irrigation management, and watershed management.

Water Conservation specifically focuses on reducing water consumption and minimising waste through efficient practices, technologies, and behaviours. Water conservation involves the conscious effort to use water more efficiently and responsibly to preserve water resources for present and future generations. This can include actions such as fixing leaks, using water-saving fixtures (e.g., low-flow toilets, water-efficient appliances) and promoting awareness about water-saving techniques.

Water Sustainability, or sustainable water, is all about making sure we can continue to have enough clean water for people and nature, both now and in the future. It involves planning and managing our water resources smartly, considering how much water we have, how we use it, and how it affects our environment. Water sustainability includes things like building infrastructure (like dams and water treatment plants) to provide clean water, managing irrigation to grow crops efficiently, and protecting natural water sources like rivers and lakes. At Weeva, sustainable water looks at all practices that maximise efficiencies in water – extraction, use, quantity and quality.

To recap:

  • Water Management is the big-picture planning and development of how we use and protect water resources.
  • Water Conservation is the everyday practice of using water wisely to minimise waste and preserve water for the future.
  • Water Sustainability is ensuring we have enough clean water for everyone and everything over the long term.

 

Who’s doing well managing their water usage?

 

Many hotels around the world are taking steps to manage their water usage, for example the Zeavola Resort in Thailand is committed to environmental protection and responsible water management. This resort has a closed water system and takes their water from deep wells nearby. Using reverse osmosis, they provide up to 75,000 litres of fresh water per day for hotel guests, staff and the running of their hotel facilities.

Zeavola also practices initiatives such as:

  • Collecting rainwater (up to 18,000 litres within a 2-hour tropical downpour!)
  • Treating and cleaning wastewater to use for their jungle garden irrigation.
  • Installing additional laundry filter systems to reuse laundry water – saving the hotel over 4,000 litres of water per day.

Their efforts in sustainable water management mean that their resort is completely independent of the public water supply, helping reduce and minimise their impact.

Why not explore our case studies and curated list of sustainable hotels around the world and discover inspiration to make your positive changes.

So, as you can see, these three terms are different and mean different things, but by combining water conservation and smart water management, we can work towards achieving water sustainability in the hospitality industry and ensure that clean water remains available for everyone.

 

Do you want to know more about sustainable tourism or learn more about how to manage your water usage?

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