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How hotels can go from being water-guzzling entities to ones following zero-water discharge policy

Rajneesh Malhotra, the COO of Chalet Hotels Ltd, on why it is imperative that the hospitality industry moves towards more sustainable practices and reduce their ecological impact to deal with the global health crisis such as the one we are experiencing.

In India, more than 600 million people face an acute water shortage. As per a 2019 study shared by Niti Aayog, about three-quarter of all Indian households do not have access to safe drinking water. Water deficiency also widely impacts GDP of the nation. By 2030, India’s water demand is estimated to be twice that of supply, implying not only water shortages but also a 6% loss in GDP, as stated in the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI 2019) developed by the NITI Aayog. This highlights the importance of structural measures to encourage optimized water usage at both the micro and macro levels.

Consistent efforts to optimise water usage is the need of the hour in the hospitality industry. (Photo: Pexels)

Economy and business-led initiatives to save water encompass two segments. First, leveraging technology to reduce their individual water consumption and second, to contribute to the overall ecosystem by conserving water, through various ESG programs. With the increasing awareness around sustainability, people across the globe are considering lifestyle changes that will leave the least negative impact on the planet. The hospitality industry endeavours to offer the best guest experiences, with unrestricted access to water, which is considered a basic offering. From laundry operations to swimming pools, luxury has not been customarily accompanied with conservation, but the recent past has seen several interventions by sensitized hospitality companies which are being highly appreciated and accepted by today’s responsible and environmentally conscious consumer.

Optimising water consumption in hotels

Preservation of water in the hospitality industry supports cost optimization and sustainable hotel operations. Some of the initiatives that hotels should undertake are limiting water consumption through aerators in taps, custom-designed showerheads in guest bathrooms, as well as installing waterless urinals and sensor-based washbasin taps.

Structural changes such as custom bathroom fittings that optimise water usage can help hotels conserve water. (Photo: Pexels)

It is crucial not only to invest in training the employees on everyday best practices that help in conserving water, but also consciously sensitise guests and other stakeholders about preserving this blue gold. Hotels should be mindful of the fact that consumers play an integral role in water conservation. It is necessary for them to create awareness among their guests of the different initiatives undertaken by the hotel to enhance water conservation, and how they can extend support. Adoption of technology and engagement of all stakeholders also leads the way in optimizing water consumption, while driving cost efficiencies in the hotels.

Some more simple but notable policies that can be implemented in the hotels are encouraging guests to opt out of daily bed and bath linen change and replace plastic water bottles with water dispensers during mid-scale and large-scale events.

Rainwater harvesting and water recycling

Hotel properties should have rainwater-harvesting systems deployed in their properties and invest in the right technology to recharge ground water and put it to best use. It is ideal if they can follow zero-discharge water policy. Recycling of water should be considered as a priority. Sewage for instance can be treated through the deployment of ultra-filtration systems. This treated water can then be reused for purposes like flushing, gardening, and air conditioning.

Water is poised to be the most precious commodity going forward with our very existence depending on it. We must do all we can, to ensure it lasts forever.

Rajneesh Malhotra is the COO of Chalet Hotels Ltd.

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Sustainability, community, and the domestic market