The tourism industry—specifically hotels, restaurants and some residential establishments—consumes approximately 84–2,000 litres per person per day and up to 3,500 litres per bedroom per day. Suffice to say hotels and restaurants are dependent on water, second only to air, for their day-to-day operations. But what happens in times of drought or service interruptions? Do establishments stop operating?

Finding alternative solutions to the water crises in tourist establishments is therefore seen as a need to lessen their dependence on communal and municipal water use. Rainwater collection and recycling is at the forefront of these solutions. This concept may not be new, but this has been overlooked in favour of centralised water treatment facilities in recent years.

Considerable investment but great ROI

In the hotel and restaurant industry, water is needed in toiletry, maintenance and food service, as well as sanitation and irrigation. The overreliance on centralised water only adds to your operating costs and may affect your service in downtimes or maintenance. In today’s decreasing freshwater levels and increasing water prices, therefore, installing rainwater tanks is a great opportunity to conserve and turn rainwater into a renewable, recyclable resource.

Rainwater tanks come in different sizes, holding capacities and materials that could hold thousands of litres of water for indeterminate period of time. Some cheaper materials like poly plastic tanks and stainless steel are easy to transport and set up. On the other hand, modern concrete rainwater tanks can be expensive. But this easily turns into a great investment when built with the right components and could last years with almost zero maintenance.

Additionally, in the wake of more establishments and residential areas adopting these systems to provide for their main or backup source of water, rainwater collection components are becoming cheaper, better and more efficient. Maintaining these systems have become less expensive as well. Some manual controls that needed human supervision in the past can now be automated, includes failsafes and can be remotely monitored through the internet with today’s technology.

The matter of space

Rainwater tanks take up a lot of space, which is a main concern for residential areas. However, in tourist destinations, this should not be a problem. The roof size of hotels and restaurants are huge, which means there is ample space for steel rainwater tanks. Underground rainwater tanks, on the other hand, can be built beneath parking lots while bigger-capacity tanks could be placed beneath the main building itself.

Some suppliers and builders take above-ground tanks in consideration as well. These tanks could be placed discreetly behind garden walls, secured as stand-alone fixtures accessible only to staff or built to match the building’s overall aesthetic with various colour and design schemes. Small- or large-scale enterprises alike can benefit from rainwater tanks.

The need for rainwater collection systems

The tourism industry sees water as an irreplaceable resource in these areas:

  • Irrigation. Part of an establishment’s appeal is in good-looking landscape, which, as a rule of thumb, requires an inch of water per area whether coming from rainwater or elsewhere.

  • Sanitation. Hotels will always have guests for nights, weeks or, sometimes, months on end. This means water is needed for high levels of toilet flushing and laundry services. Rainwater tanks make these establishments reliant on themselves for their grey water needs.

  • Food service. In high-end and casual dining experiences especially, hundreds of dishes need to be washed per hour—not to mention cleaning and washing ingredients—which means thousands of litres of water are expended on a daily basis.

  • Other maintenance. One overlooked facility to be maintained in hotels and restaurants are cooling towers, the largest consumer of water. Cooling towers need about 4 litres of water per month for every square foot of conditioned space, especially during the summer. Therefore, a hotel with at least 7 floors and a cooling tower will take up most establishments’ water consumption.

Rainwater collection systems may prove costly in the short term but will save you thousands, even millions, in operating costs in the long term. The trick is finding a reputable and reliable rainwater tank manufacturer and supplier to help you identify your needs.