4. Water Conservation
Water conservation is an important strategy for sustainable tourism, that can pay dividends in several ways including:
improving the experience of the tourist
protection of ecosystems
reducing pollution in the water ways
Droughts have already had negative impacts on the quality of the tourism experience in the Caribbean, other destinations in the U.S., and around the world. New drought cycles from climate change may complicate this existing situation.
Good water conservation programs can help ensure that the quality of the tourism experience remains high.
In Bermuda, and the U.S. Virgin Islands the law requires new development to include rainwater collection to help provide sufficient water supplies
Water conservation also can save significant dollars in less water use, less water treatment costs, less labor costs, and less energy use. Using less water also strengthens the local economy as more economic resources are available for the local area.
Water conservation also helps protect ecosystems that include tourist attractions that may be related to fishing, hiking, sailing, etc.
Water conservation can also be a tool for disaster reduction. Landscaping along can help reduce storm runoff in the water ways as much as 50%. This not only lessons the impacts of storm surge from hurricanes or floods but also speeds the recovery as only half the impact occurs.
Finally, good water conservation also reduces the pollution in the water ways as the less storm and sewer runoff into the streams translates into less pollution in the water ways.
The potential is enormous. Walt Disney World for example has been able to:
keep the same aquifer levels for 22 years despite the tremendous growth of properties including hotels, hospitals, shopping areas, and parks.
develop programs that use approximately 30% or the resorts overall water needs and 80% of its irrigation needs from reclaimed water.
been able to reduce its daily water consumption from 34 million gallons a day in 1994 to 22 million gallons a day despite significant parks and resort expansion.
There are many best practices that communities can adopt to promote water sustainability. Some examples include:
Implementing water conservation measures, such as installing low-flow toilet and shower heads, using drought-resistant landscaping, and fixing leaks.
Promoting the use of greywater (i.e., water from sinks, showers, and washing machines that has been treated and can be reused for irrigation and other non-potable purposes) to reduce demand on fresh water resources.
Protecting natural water sources, such as rivers, streams, and wetlands, by preserving green space and adopting development practices that minimize pollution and erosion.
Developing water reuse and recycling systems to reduce the amount of water that needs to be treated and transported.
Promoting the use of rainwater harvesting systems, which capture and store rainwater for later use.
Encouraging the use of native plants and trees, which have deep root systems and are adapted to local weather and soil conditions, as they can help to reduce water usage and improve water quality.
Educating the community about the importance of water conservation and the ways that individuals can reduce their water use.