A third less water

In celebration of this year's World Tourism Day, themed Tourism and Water by the United Nations, the Malta Business Bureau's EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project revealed that Malta’s hotel industry could reduce its water consumption by up to 37%, in the short to medium term.

This conclusion is based on analysis of water consumption data from 42 hotels, representing 30% of the local industry. It has been published in a paper titled ‘The hotel industry – a shift to greener and lower cost operations’.

Ing. Marco Cremona, the project's water expert engaged by the MBB and main author of the paper, said “This is the first time that such extensive data on water consumption by hotels is available on a macro level. This information shows the most straightforward path for an industry-level shift to lower costs and increased sustainability.”

The paper considers existing local best practice and quantifies savings that would arise if this best practice were widely adopted. Basing solutions on existing best practice ensures that the potential savings are not merely theoretically, but also economically and operationally feasible.

A minimum of 15% industry wide savings are achievable by regulating water flows in showers and wash hand basins. Up to 37% savings could be achieved by also including grey-water treatment – a waste water recycling process which treats shower and wash-hand basin water for re-use in flushing toilets or landscaping.

Commenting on what it would take for the industry to make the shift, MHRA President Tony Zahra said “With our partners the MBB and through the EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project, the MHRA shall ensure that hotels are informed about these savings and how to realise them. However, for an industry-level evolution to lower consumption and costs, support from providers, authorities and government is required.”

Adjusting shower and wash-hand basin flows is a simple matter easily handled by the industry. Grey-water treatment requires a more widespread support from industry suppliers, specifically engineers and architects who need to plan appropriate plumbing. Current plumbing infrastructure in most hotels would need to be redone for grey-water treatment to be adopted.

The MBB and MHRA therefore called on government and local authorities to further support the hotel industry, by streamlining existing and new funding schemes to give more priority to in-house grey-water treatment projects.

An industry-level shift to lower water consumption would address two local problems: the local hotel industry’s high utility costs compared to other European countries, and Malta’s severe water scarcity and the extraction of around 59% more groundwater than is sustainable.

Through the EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project, partners the MBB, Malta Chamber and MHRA are already helping enterprises to save water. Several hotels are in the process of adopting, or have already adopted, flow regulation water saving solutions. The project will shortly launch an online counter, recording the amount of water being saved through recent system upgrades.

The MBB’s EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project receives 50% co-financing under the European Community’s LIFE funding programme, with the Ministry responsible the environment as the main co-financier, further co-financing and sponsorship from Easydry Malta, APS Bank, Island Hotels Group, and MSV LIFE.

Download the paper here.