Dam levels dropped to around 39.2% by the end of January. The City has warned that it is not viable to use the last 10% of water in the dams and forecast for rain is dismal. The average consumption of water in Cape Town is approximately 80 million litres over the collective per day water-saving target of 800 million litres.
“It is not just critical that tourism and hospitality establishments adhere to the letter of the current water restrictions,” says FEDHASA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, “We also face the challenges of educating guests and visitors and bringing them on board with the country’s water-saving efforts in this time of severe drought.”
FEDHASA keeps its members abreast of current water shortage situations as well as promotes best practices in water resource management on an on-going basis.
Tsogo Sun Hotels, for example, place notices in bathrooms that educate guests on water restrictions as well as their water-saving linen and towel replacement schedule. Under this programme, bed linen is only changed on every third day of each guest’s stay, if a change is not requested sooner, and towels that are hung up are not changed each day, unless upon request. In addition, Tsogo Sun Hotels have installed water meters and shower heads with “restricted flow” which assist greatly with the task of limiting water usage.
A number of Cape Town’s top establishments employ environmental management techniques of international standard. The V&A Waterfront introduced water-saving initiatives almost a decade ago that spokesperson Enid Vickers says save about 9,000 kilolitres of water per building per month.
The stringent level 3B water restrictions, which only allow the use of municipal water for irrigation (using a bucket or watering can), and just on Tuesdays and Saturdays, for merely one hour a day either before 9am or after 6pm, are a strong motivator for hotels, guesthouses and B&B’s to devise grey water systems to maintain the attractiveness of their properties.
The Townhouse Hotel has so far successfully motivated its guests to participate in their emergency grey water system. The hotel educates guests about the current drought conditions and inspires responsible tourism by providing buckets in bathrooms. Guests have been encouraged to take short showers with buckets placed in the stalls. These are routinely collected and used to water the hotel gardens and trees.
“Environmental management best practices, innovations and the constant promotion and facilitation of responsible tourism at establishment level is vital,” comments Tshifhiwa. "This drought is not some kind of ‘once-off’ occasion. As the effects of climate change intensify, and because South Africa has always been a water-stressed region, we encourage our members to make long-term sustainability a key focus of their operations.
Proper water management includes water harvesting, water recycling and natural water purifying; as well as water monitoring and audits; and constant water-saving practices from the basic usage by guests to implementing water-efficient systems that range from the air-conditioning to the kitchen, and from the bathroom to the food garden.”