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Water Conservation

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 as well.

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 lakes.

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 shampooing.

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 systems.
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 http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/ 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 water.

Equipment Water Conservation BMPs

Use preventative maintenance schedules for water consuming equipment, such as ice machines, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, boilers and chillers.
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 areas.
The following is a listing of the appropriate use rates for low-flow fixtures in the above areas:

  • 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 laundry machines.
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.

Industry Information

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Last updated: October 14, 2009

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Green Lodging Program, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, M.S. 30, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-2100 (phone) / 850-245-2159 (fax)  
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