Water Crisis: Cape Hotels forced to get innovative

2017-09-14 10:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Picture: iStock

Cape Town - The Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) has joined calls for its members in the Western Cape, and businesses alike, to become innovative when considering water usage cutbacks in the province due to severe drought. 

With the Western Capes's water supply diminishing and level five water restrictions officially in effect, FEDHASA Cape Chairperson, Jeff Rosenberg says the association’s member establishments have heard the call and are doing what they can to become water smart, especially in recent months.

Becoming water smart

Rosenberg also says that now is the time for members to “think out of the box” and come up with fresh ideas to help combat a “monumental problem” and in-turn encourage smaller establishments to follow suit.

SEE: SA Gov calls for wastewater to be used amidst Cape drought

“As we face this drought disaster, we are reminded every day that we simply cannot do without water. It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we do our bit to conserve and take care of this scarce, much-needed natural resource,” he says. 

The City of Cape Town announced that dams are 33.6% full, and in sharp contrast to the same period last year when the average dam levels were sitting in excess of 61%.

According to the city, dam storage levels are currently at 35,1%, with useable water at 25,1%. Collective consumption is at 604 million litres of water per day. This is 104 million litres above the target of 500 million litres - read new24's full update.

ALSO SEE: Cape's water crisis won't stem international travel growth

According to Rosenberg, ticking the water-saving boxes is a unified effort that takes commitment and hard work from both hotel staff and guests alike. 

Added to this, he says establishments like Spier Farm Management and Resort in Stellenbosch, the Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport and Tsogo Sun Hotels in Cape Town are just a few of the FEDHASA Cape member establishments that have introduced viable water saving initiatives. 

Tsogo Sun has already reduced its water consumption by more than 17% over the past year - this under increased occupancy to boot.

SEE: Cape Water Crisis: 9 ways this hotel reduced its YOY consumption by 17%

Hotels playing their part to save water

Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport:

Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport has specifically been designed with keeping environmental sustainable features in mind and since its inception in 2013; the hotel has been delivering on its promise to save water by:

Daily contribution:

Introducing a grey water recycling system.

Increasing educational signage throughout the hotel informing guests of the water crisis.
Encouraging shorter showers.
Enforcing the use of the half-flush buttons on all toilets. 

Innovative thinking:

While an on-going daily contribution goes a long way and has significantly assisted Hotel Verde in its water-saving efforts, the hotel constantly investigates other long-term, sustainable and innovative water-saving plans like: 

Installing low flow technology to save more water 
Investigating a Reverse Osmosis plant to reduce the hotel’s dependency on the municipal water supply

The overall impact: 

The hotel’s water-saving efforts have paid off and it achieved the double Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification specifically for: 

Using only 35% of water required by a hotel of the same size, saving 65% in total

Smart campaigns: 

In an evolving digital world, where social media platforms reign, the hotel launched its #WaterwiseTourismCT campaign, calling on all industry role players to join the Twitter discussion, which focussed specifically on how the water crisis has impacted tourism in the province, the industry’s contribution to saving water and to create opportunities from the provincial disaster. 

Tsogo Sun Hotels, Cape Town:

Tsogo Sun Hotels, Cape Town are committed to making a significant contribution to conserve water and to join the rest of Cape Town in ensuring that the dams don't run dry, especially with the summer season fast approaching.

To-date, Tsogo Sun reduced its water usage at its Cape Town hotels by nearly 300 000 litres a day in the last six months.

Day-to-day efforts:

Removing bath plugs from bathrooms to discourage guests from taking a bath.
Encouraging shorter showers.
Changing bed linen on guest departure.
Installing water restrictors on shower heads.
Replacing linen serviettes with paper serviettes in the restaurant.
Issuing water saving tips to guests at check-in.
Water saving signage displayed in all public areas.

Work in progress:

Behind the scenes, hotel officials are hard at work brainstorming potential ideas that could further save water and in-turn make a positive, lasting contribution to the water supply.

Alternative measures include:

Converting water cooled chillers to air cooled chillers.
Introducing push button taps in all staff areas.
Investigating desalination plants for the Southern Sun, the Cullinan and Southern Sun Waterfront.

Some advice to establishments:

The hotel group urges all establishments to place water conservation at the top of their priority list by:

Creating ongoing awareness on the crisis.
Identifying areas that use water, involving staff and brainstorming possible solutions to using less water.

Spier Farm Management and Resort: 

Ten years ago Spier began its water conservation journey, realizing then that water is a scarce natural resource and developed its goals around waste water recycling and consumption.

The basics:

Communicating accurately with both staff and guests on the hotel’s water conscious journey.
Recycling 100% of water through a treatment plant.
Reusing recycled water in the hotel’s gardens and grounds. 

Novel ideas in the pipeline:

The team at Spier are regularly putting their heads together to ensure they live up to the hotel’s sustainability mandate established a decade ago, especially in the wake of the Western Cape drought. Ideas in the pipeline include: 

Installing a new pool water harvesting system, and until it’s up and running the hotel’s seven swimming pools will remain closed.
Investing in water from air machines to generate potable water and reduce the drinkable water from purifying machines.

Spier saves: 

The establishment’s management and staff believe water is a core business asset that requires innovation, education, and collaboration to save water.

Having implemented a number of water-savvy initiatives the hotel has saved 55% of water by enforcing its extra drought crisis efforts.

As the country celebrates Tourism Month this September, under the Sustainable Tourism banner Rosenberg says FEDHASA Cape is incredibly proud of their members’ efforts to become water wise.

'We encourage all new innovative ideas to be shared with the FEDHASA Cape office which we will circulate to all our members,” he says.

What to read next on Traveller24:

Cape's water crisis won't stem international travel growth

Cape Water Crisis: 9 ways this hotel reduced its YOY consumption by 17%

Cape Water Crisis: Rainfall 'remains unpredictable' as R74m allocated to drought relief