Many believe water conservation is the biggest environmental challenge faced by Floridians.
It is a precious commodity that tourism and industry depend on for economic viability. In
Florida, the majority of drinking water comes from groundwater aquifers that are replenished
by rainfall. Florida must average at least 53 inches of water per year to avoid drought
conditions. During drought conditions, individuals as well as businesses are asked to
conserve water. It is important to conserve water not only during these times, but everyday
Hotels are large-volume users of water, detergents, cleaners and other chemicals
that can be detrimental to our environment. Protecting the environment by lessening
the impact a lodging facility has on the environment also assists in protecting the
very reason its guests come to Florida; the beautiful beaches, rivers, springs and
Increasing water efficiency is one of the most significant opportunities for
realizing cost savings. Many of the water-saving solutions detailed below are easy
and affordable to implement. Aside from the obvious decrease in water bills, savings
are also realized through decreases in electricity, sewage and chemical costs.
Water conservation can be achieved through behavioral, operational or equipment
Best Management Practices (BMPs). Some of these changes cost very little to
implement and can have large impacts on water usage.
Behavioral and Operational Water Conservation BMPs
Develop, commit to and publicize the facility’s plan to conserve water.
The best plans are often those that have been soundly developed, have management and
guest buy-in and are widely publicized to employees, guest and the general public.
The water conservation plan should include areas of concern, specific action-based
goals and detailed plan to achieve success.
Remind guests and employees to use water only when needed.
It may seem simple to only use water when needed, but large amounts of water are
wasted during simple activities such as teeth brushing, hand washing and
Regularly track both water and sewage usage.
It is important to track and monitor all types of water usage, including sewage
rates. An operational water-use tracking program will allow the facility to monitor
for unusual variations. It is imperative that once variations are detected, the
issue is resolved as soon as possible. Not only will water be conserved but the
impact to the “bottom line” will be reduced.
Conduct a water use assessment.
Water assessments can be arranged from the local utility company or water management
district. Contact the facility’s water utility provider to arrange for an assessment.
Most assessments are offered at no charge to the customer and can be helpful in
identifying ways to conserve water. The assessor may be able to offer information on
monetary rebates or incentive programs to assist in any equipment or operational
changes that may need to be made.
Install soil moisture or rain detectors on landscape irrigation
Installing soil moisture meters or rain detectors will allow the facility grounds to
be irrigated only when needed. Soil meters sense the amount of moisture in the soil
and will indicate when the moisture level reaches certain threshold. Rain detectors
will automatically shut-off the irrigation system if it begins to rain during the
irrigation cycle. Both systems will reduce unnecessary watering.
Irrigate during the appropriate times.
Do not irrigate during the heat of the day. The majority of the water used during
this time will evaporate before it can reach the soil zone. Set timers on the
irrigation system to run either in the early morning or evening. Contact your local
State of Florida extension service agent
for the best time to water in your location.
Use Florida friendly landscaping.
Florida friendly landscaping uses plants and grasses that are native to Florida or
to areas that have a similar climate. To reduce the amount of watering needed, these
plants should also have an increased level of drought tolerance.
Implement an optional towel and linen reuse program in guest rooms.
Towel and linen reuse programs allow guests staying longer than one night the option
of reusing their sheets and towels for another day. Signs indicating the program’s
existence and directions for compliance should be posted in each guest room. For
example, the towel reuse directions should indicate where to place towels that will
be reused and those that need to be replaced. The linen reuse program can explain
that bed sheets will only be changed after a certain amount of days or length of
stay. These programs will allow the facility to reduce water consumption, allow for
more efficient housekeeping service and reduce costs.
Institute a sweep-first policy in all areas, especially outdoors.
Do not use water as a first line option for cleaning floors, patios and walkways.
Sweeping can remove the majority of debris, leaving little to no reason to mop. When
mopping, use as little water as possible to complete the task.
Use recycled or reclaimed water to irrigate.
Recycled or reclaimed water has been properly treated but not to potable standards.
If available and allowed by local regulation, use reclaimed water to water lawns,
shrubs and flower beds.
Never allow faucets to run unattended.
Unattended faucets have a higher likelihood to increase water usage. Prepare a
policy that outlines that any open faucet must be attended to at all times.
Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator.
Frozen food should be defrosted in the refrigerator; not in the sink under running
Equipment Water Conservation BMPs
Use preventative maintenance schedules for water consuming equipment, such as ice
machines, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, boilers and
Preventative maintenance schedules can increase machine efficiencies, lower costs
and can lead to lower utility costs by correcting problems before they become large
issues. Continually check for leaks and repair any problems as soon as possible. All
equipment should be placed on a preventative maintenance schedule and any necessary
records kept accordingly.
Install low-flow fixtures in guest rooms, restrooms and employee shower
The following is a listing of the appropriate use rates for low-flow fixtures in the
- Low-flow faucets should use no more than 1.5 gallons per minute. Add aerators to all faucets.
- Low-flow showerheads should consume no more than 2.0 gallons per minute.
- Low-flow toilets should not use more than 1.6 gallons per flush.
Replace urinals in male bathrooms with waterless urinals.
Waterless urinals do not contain a normal flush value like traditional urinals. Any
wastes and smells are trapped in the drain. These urinals only require some water
for cleaning purposes but do not consume any during operation.
Use low-flow, pre-rinse nozzles in kitchen and beverage areas.
Low-flow nozzles should not consume more than 1.25 gallons per minute. Disable the
ability to lock the nozzle in the open position. Pre-rinse nozzles are made to
conserve water by automatically shutting off when not in use.
Recycle final rinse water as pre-rinse water for subsequent cycles in
Using the final rinse water as the pre-rinse water in a subsequent cycle allows for
less water consumption, decreased amount of detergents and chemicals plus an
increase in efficiency.
Use high efficiency, low water usage machines in the kitchen, pool area
and laundry, where possible.
High efficiency machines will not only lower the water usage but can also lower the
amount on energy consumption. Common examples of high efficiency machines include
counter-current dishwashers, washing machines that reuse final rinse water and any
ENERGY STAR® rated appliance.