Clean water is a precious commodity in the 21st century. This is why rainwater harvesting is turning into such an important issue. It can loosely be defined as accumulation and storage of rainwater for a variety of usage – including irrigation, livestock, washing, indoor heating, etc. If one has the proper technological tools, this harvested water can even be turned into drinking water. Owing to such wide possibilities for application, rainwater harvesting has a lot of potential in the hotel industry.
In accommodation facilities, harvested rainwater has the most prominent use in toilet flushing. This is quite logical considering that the water in question fulfils its role effectively without the need for additional processing and disinfection. Countless people pass through hotels and lodges on a daily basis, so the management has to accommodate them appropriately. However, when you consider that drinking water has become so scarce and precious, it is truly a waste to flush it down the toilet. This is why many green-thinking businesses are promoting the integration of rainwater harvesting into the hotel industry.
Believe it or not, the biggest consumers of water on the property are by far the cooling towers. In fact, if you do the measurements, you’ll learn a staggering bit of info – the cooling towers use about 40 litres of water per square metre of an air-conditioned room over the summer months. If the cooling towers are using potable water, this fact is downright scary. For a hotel taller than five floors, it is much more reasonable to connect a rainwater harvesting setup to the cooling towers and use this collected water for refrigeration purposes.
UV water disinfection
UVGI, which stands for ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, is a very effective method that can be applied to the disinfection of water. It uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill or at least damage a biosphere of dangerous microorganisms that live in the harvested rainwater – which includes moulds and other pathogens besides bacteria and viruses. This application of modern commercial UV water treatment systems opens the door to a much wider variety of usages when it comes to collected water, which means that buildings involved in the hotel sector can invest a bit of money today to save a small fortune tomorrow.
Due to the aforementioned scarcity of clean water, people are looking at a variety of ancient techniques to irrigate their gardens and fields effectively without wasting potable water. In ancient Egypt, people created a complex web of small canals that transported water from the Nile into their fields. These canals used to usually cut directly into the fields and they were often strengthened with clay found in local grounds.
While returning to such tried and true methods is reasonable in some parts of the world, many rivers are simply too polluted these days to irrigate the fields directly. This is why people are relying on a hybrid between these ancient irrigation methods and rainwater harvesting tech. Instead of connecting these canals to the river – they connect them to the reservoir built to collect rainwater and dew. In the hotel industry, these irrigation systems can be utilized to water the immense green fields and gardens that are usually there for aesthetic reasons.
Additionally, this independent water supply can be used in irrigation as a supplemental source of water in the case of heavy droughts. Beautiful plants and flowers that adorn a hotel front can be saved due to the implementation of such methods, especially if some sort of filtering system is added.
Washing machines do not waste water as drastically as cooling towers, but they are a close second in this regard. In fact, when you get down to a statistical average, a household wastes around 35 litres in washing machines, every night! Due to the constant need to wash curtains and sheets, hotels are one of the heaviest users of washing machines, and in order to integrate this with rainwater harvesting, they need to invest in proper treatment technology. Above all else, filtration systems for heavy metals and limescale have the priority over disinfection of microorganisms – for a longer lifespan of the washing machine. Since most of these machines use boiling water during the washing process, the disinfection aspect will mostly take care of itself.
The state of affairs of rainwater harvesting is far from ideal right now – the promise of its potential is not being fully tapped into but green thinking and promotion of cutting-edge technology can usher a new era of water recycling. For now, most commercial buildings in the western world are limited to non-potable usage in the realm of water harvesting. Still, the extent of the utility of rainwater harvesting right now shows a lot of exciting potential for the uses in the hotel industry which are both practical and economical.
Author Bio: If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of green living/home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.