The Importance of Conserving Water
I nterstate 20 winds through the extreme southwestern portion of Haralson County before winding across the border of the state of Alabama to the west — and that is where the majority of lodging options are located: a Hampton Inn; a Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham; a Motel 6; a Super 8; a Holiday Inn Express; and a Quality Inn & Suites hug the shoulders of the highway and offer travelers a respite on their journeys.
Guests at these hotel and motel properties expect to be able to freely take showers and run the water while shaving or brushing their teeth — but the western Georgia county is suffering from such extreme drought conditions that officials had no choice but to declare a state of emergency. Residents can no longer run their sprinklers and water their lawns; car washing facilities have closed until further notice; fire trucks are equipped with tankers instead of connecting to hydrants; and beaver dams and debris have been removed and cleared from the Tallapoosa River — which is greater than six feet below normal levels — in order to improve water flow.
“There is now a total outdoor water ban in the county, and authorities said they have to buy water from Alabama and from neighboring Polk and Carroll counties”, according to this article written by Denise Dillon of WAGA-TV Fox 5 News in Atlanta. “The Tallapoosa River is the main source of water for Haralson County’s nearly 30,000 residents. A hot summer and no rain left the water level at its lowest level in close to 100 years.”
While Haralson County is not exactly the hotbed of five-star resort properties, it is located on the outer western edge of the extended greater Atlanta metropolitan area, which is also currently experiencing significant drought conditions — and the dry weather is expected to worsen the drought before it is relieved…
…and yet, I am based in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area; and because I practice water conservation efforts all year long — regardless of whether or not drought conditions exist — I actually have a significant surplus of gallons of water.
The Importance of Conserving Water
With those aforementioned worsening drought conditions, I thought that I would share some thoughts on the conservation of water which I originally imparted in this article from Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, as I think about — and practice — water conservation all year long…
…especially when summer arrives, as that is usually when drought conditions are most likely to occur.
Being based in the Atlanta area, there has long been battles between the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida as to who has rights to the water from the rivers known as the Chattahoochee and Flint north of the state line between Florida and Georgia; and the Apalachicola River south of that border…
…and yet I think about how companies can conserve water without affecting their customers — particularly, hotel properties without affecting guests.
Please allow me to indulge in expressing some ideas without concern for potential hinderances for a moment.
Condensation From Air Conditioning Units of Hotel and Resort Properties
Imagine if hotel properties had a way of taking the condensation from all of the air conditioning units with which they are equipped and using it for toilets, for example. On a hot and humid summer day in the Atlanta area, the air conditioning in my home can yield as much as ten gallons of water per day.
You read that correctly: ten gallons of water per day.
I collect that water each day and use it for a variety of non-potable purposes — such as watering non-edible plants, for example.
I can only imagine how much water the combined air conditioning of a hotel property produces each day…
…and yes, I do realize that a hotel property in places with low humidity such as Las Vegas or Phoenix will produce significantly less water with its air conditioning than a hotel property in New Orleans or Miami.
Rain Water: Saving and Using It
Water is collected from rainfall with a couple of plastic tubs outside of my home; although rain barrels can also certainly be used. This water is collected in jugs and used on outdoor plants which do not produce edible fruits or vegetables.
Imagine if hotel and resort properties which currently use tap water for irrigation similarly collected rain water to use on outdoor landscaping instead.
Saving Water in Preparing Hot Showers
I cannot think how the following idea will not affect hotel guests; but when the weather is cold outside, I use clean plastic water jugs to collect water from the bathtub or shower faucets in my home until it reaches a warm temperature. This usually yields two to three gallons of drinking water per day for one shower; and I use that water for purposes such as for drinking or for boiling with food. I do realize that I can purchase and install an instant hot water tank; but that involves hundreds of dollars from which a return on investment will not be seen for years — if at all.
Shower Immediately After Someone Else
If there is more than one person sharing a hotel room, consider taking a shower after someone else has just finished; or take the first shower before someone else does. This way, you will not have to run more water to warm up the shower.
Water Saving While Shaving
Whenever I shave — whether in a hotel bathroom or at home — I only run the water when I need to clean my razor and wash whatever shaving cream is left on my face and hands. Imagine how many gallons of fresh water would be saved if everyone else who shaved did this simple action.
Re-Use Linens and Clothing
Many hotel and resort properties now offer ways to conserve water — the most common of which is to re-use towels, bed sheets and pillow cases simply by leaving them in a way designated by management of the hotel or resort property.
Back on Sunday, November 15, 2009, I reported in this article on how some lodging companies offered incentives if you declined housekeeping services. For example, at one Starwood Preferred Guest hotel property in Seattle, you were able to earn either a gift card per day worth five United States dollars to the hotel restaurant or 500 Starpoints per day simply for declining daily housekeeping.
Because my hotel stays are usually no greater than one or two days, I do not know if any lodging companies still offer incentives to decline housekeeping — although the program still appears to exist in some form at Starwood Hotels and Resorts worldwide, according to this discussion posted on FlyerTalk.
Also consider bringing fewer clothes with you when you travel. It is not a crime if you wore the same shirt or blouse twice during a trip instead of once. If you are able to do this throughout your trip with all of the your clothes, this means saving water on washing them — not to mention carrying half as much clothing with you on the trip.
I estimate that I conservatively save approximately 2,000 gallons of water per year just with these ideas. It boggles my mind to think about how much water could be saved — and used for non-potable purposes — if buildings such as hotel properties and restaurants all over the world could use the condensation from their air conditioning for purposes such as flushing water and hydrating plants; and if individuals could employ even only one or two of the aforementioned ideas.
I know, I know: these are “pipe” dreams, as extra plumbing, control valves and other items would be needed to have my ideas become more prevalent; and the expense and effort would most likely outweigh the perceived advantages. However, I would not be surprised if some companies already practice maximizing fresh drinking water conservation.
It is sad that seemingly too many people take fresh drinking water for granted and ultimately waste at least some of it — perhaps without even realizing it. It is a scary thought to imagine having no more fresh drinking water freely flowing from the tap because the reservoirs became dry. If ideas pertaining to conserving water were used more often, perhaps we would be more successful in staving off drought…
…and even the most minor efforts of water conservation by all of us can be collectively significant. After all, fresh drinking water is a precious and finite resource we simply cannot take for granted.
If only everyone — business owners and residents alike — practiced similar water conservation efforts, many areas of the world may potentially never have to experience drought conditions ever again…
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.