Curbing consumption – Water you waiting for?

Posted by Patrick Mills on 16 September 2016 | Comments

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The tourism industry is largely dependent on water. Accommodation providers, in particular, depend on large quantities of water to run showers, swimming pools, irrigation systems and so on. Consequently, a medium to large hotel in Australia, for example, uses around 79,000 litres per day, equating roughly to the same amount of water needed to fill 29 Olympic-sized pools each year.

The tourism industry often accounts for far greater water expenditure than a local population. As an example, a 2012 study by Tourism Concern, suggested that in Bali, Indonesia, tourists consumed almost 16 times more water than locals.

With international tourist visits to Australia on the rise (increased 10% this year) Australia’s water resources will undoubtedly face increasingly more pressure. As stakeholders in the industry, it is our responsibility to use our natural resources more efficiently.

If you think you could do more to curb your business or your household’s water consumption, here’s a few tips on how to get started:

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Photo Credit: IRRI Photos - Drought 

Get comprehensive information about your current water usage and develop a reduction strategy:

  • Audit – By auditing your water consumption you can identify where your business is consuming most water and why.
  • Plan – With this information you can decide where and how you are going to curb your water consumption setting yourself targets.
  • Monitor –Review your water consumption from time to time and ensure that you are on track to meeting your targets.

Install proven water-efficient products. Check out the Australian government Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme and find out how much water you could be saving. Here are a few examples:

  • “Installing a water-efficient showerhead saves about 14,500 litres per household each year!”
  • “An old-style single flush toilet can use up to 12 litres of water in one flush, whereas more water efficient dual flush toilets average less than four litres.”
  • “The most efficient urinals combined with smart controls reduce water use by 40-50 per cent.”

Garden irrigation is one of the highest water users within the tourism industry. As tour operators you can tackle this by:

  • Choosing to water plans and gardens in the early evening.
  • Opting for native plants that need less water
  • Diverting surface and roof gutter run off to gardens.
  • Collecting rain water in tanks

kangaroo paw native plant

Photo Credit: South West Eco Discoveries - Kangaroo Paw is native to Australia

Excess water consumption ultimately boils down to an individual’s choices. Operators are often in a prime position to influence attitudes and behavior by:

  • Incorporating information on water consumption and wastage into interpretive information delivered by your staff, in-room compendiums, or even in signage throughout your business.
  • Providing your staff with this information alongside training will ensure that your workforce is more efficient.

Taking steps to curb your water consumption is not only beneficial to the environment but also economically efficient for your business. In the end it will also help you realise just how much of water consumed is actually water wasted.

Ecotourism Australia values operators who are responsible in their use of natural resources. If you as a tour operator have any tips on how tourism stakeholders can reduce water usage please let us know. We are always looking to share our operators’ achievements (write to us anytime at

For more ideas on curbing water consumption, we suggest you check out:

Tourism Australia’s Water Fact Sheet

Water Management and Responsibility in Hotels

How Does Tourism Affect the Demand on Water?

Photo credits: Adventure Out Australia, South West Eco Discoveries 

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