Cape Town hotels devising water saving plans

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Cape Town - Hotels and guesthouses in Cape Town are doing their best to ensure that their customers save water this summer.

That’s because the influx of holiday makers into the drought-stricken city has the potential to result in sky-high water bills and worsen the water shortage.

Level 5 restrictions have been imposed on the city, which means businesses have to use 20% less water when compared to the same month last year. The price of water is 25% higher than last year.

The restrictions prohibit the watering of any garden with municipal drinking water or the filling of swimming pools.

The Federated Hospitality Association of SA’s Cape chairman, Jeff Rosenberg, conceded it would be difficult for the industry to reduce water use by as much as the city wants if they also have to accommodate more guests this year.

However, he hopes the city will take this into consideration and that their calculations will provide for any increase in tourist numbers.

Tsogo Sun, for example, managed to reduce its water use by 17% through initiatives including:

- Removing bath plugs from hotel rooms and only giving them to guests who insist on them;

- Only changing sheets upon request; and

- Not using tablecloths and having paper napkins instead of linen ones in restaurants.

John van Rooyen, director of operations for Tsogo Sun in the Cape Town region, said the swimming pools at their hotels are filled with borehole water. At properties where there are no boreholes, the water is transported from facilities that do have them.

At the Townhouse Hotel in Cape Town, every shower has a bucket for catching water. Every guest gets a card explaining that the water will be used in the gardens, said general manager Jacqueline Williams.

Rosenberg said some hotels have put up signs indicating that people should not leave the water running while soaping themselves, but turn off the tap and open it again when they want to rinse themselves. Some hotels have closed their swimming pools.

Shopping centres are doing their bit. At the V&A Waterfront, sensors have been installed in the taps to ensure they switch off after a few seconds. Sea water is used for air conditioning in buildings.

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said some business have gone as far as asking people to only flush the toilet if absolutely necessary.

He said visitor numbers are expected to be the same as last year.

December is usually the busiest month.

Last year, 398 245 local visitors arrived by plane, 114 218 from the region and 9 701 from overseas.

Of the visitors, 78% arrived by plane, 14% by car, 3% by bus and 5% by other means.

The City of Cape Town aims to reduce water use to 500 million litres per day, down from the current level of 624 million per day.

Water tariffs for businesses are now R27.97 per kilolitre, as compared to R22.38 per kilolitre last year.

The province’s dams are just 35.8% full, compared with 62% last year.

The city had not responded to queries by Friday afternoon.

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