There is a critical water shortage in our beautiful city. Authorities predict that by March the dams that supply the city with water will be empty. Locals and visitors must limit their personal consumption to a total of 87 litres a day.
We will make it easy for you to save water during your stay with us. Just follow these tips:
- Close taps when soaping hands, shaving or brushing teeth.
- Take showers instead of baths. We have removed bath plugs in the hope that guests will shower instead of taking a bath.
- Place the bucket provided in the shower when showering. We recycle the excess water it collects.
- Reduce your time in the shower by making use of the shower timer in your bathroom. A 10-minute shower at the Vineyard Hotel uses 90 litres.
- Reuse your towels and linen to reduce laundry requirements. We will only wash towels we find in the bath and if you are staying for more than a week, we will change your bed linen on the fourth morning.
- Report drips and leaks.
- Use the hand sanitizer dispensers instead of washing your hands with water.
- Push the ‘half flush’ button (the small button) when you flush. It uses 50% less water than the full flush (large button).
What we have done and continue doing to save water:
- Spent R5-million on water-saving initiatives over the past 5 years.
- Devoted 654 hours to water thirsty alien vegetation clearing in 2016.
- Installed aerators on the taps.
- Replaced hand towels with paper towels in public toilets to reduce laundry load.
- Replaced material napkins with recyclable paper napkins in most of our dining venues to reduce laundry load.
- Change linen only on the fourth morning of a guest’s stay to reduce laundry load.
- Change towels only on request from guests to reduce laundry load.
- Recycle laundry water, for first wash of the next load.
- Use all unfinished bottled water for floor washing.
- Recycle excess shower water.
- Installed grey-water infrastructure to facilitate the future supply of greywater to flush our toilets.
- Use only borehole irrigation for our gardens.
- Cover the outdoor pool between 11:00 and 15:00, the hottest part of the day, to reduce evaporation. (Indoor pool available to use)
- Showers at the gym closed between 10:30 and 17:00.
- Mulch and compost the garden to prevent soil evaporation.
- Installed a water-wise air-conditioning chiller unit.
Explore the ideas below received from guests to save every drop – then post yours on the Vineyard Facebook page using #H2oh
- Shorten your shower to less than 2 minutes (purchase a shower timer from reception before you leave)
- Sometimes a bath is unavoidable – make sure it’s shallow
- There’s nothing wrong with air heads. Put them in your taps at home
- Install taps with a motion-sensor where possible
- Use hand sanitiser instead of washing with water
- Choose the half-flush button on your loo if you have the option – or place a brick in the cistern to reduce the water used during a single flush
- Investigate the cost of rain-water tanks and a grey-water system. The money you’ll save on your water bill will quickly cover the cost
- These are easy DIY measures anyone can take: put buckets under your downpipes to catch the rain coming off your roof; shower with a bucket; put a basin in your kitchen sink; save the water from your washing machine (lead the outflow pipe into a large drum)… You will be astounded at how much water you’ll save for flushing loos and watering your garden
- When defrosting your fridge, use the melted ice to clean floors
- Only use your dishwasher and washing machine once you have a full load (maybe those towels and sheets can wait another day?). Check your appliances for eco cycles and short rinse options
- Close the tap while you shave or brush your teeth
- Encourage your children to be leak-detecting-superheroes!
- Don’t buy bottled water – it takes six times the amount of water in the bottle to produce it
- Find out if your city has clear spring water points
- Keep a cover on your pool to avoid evaporation
Never were truer words spoken than Benjamin Franklin’s: “When the well is dry, we will know the worth of water.”
May you fall asleep to the best lullaby in the world: the sound of rain!
The Vineyard’s response to the water crisis
(20 June 2017)
The Petousis Group of boutique hotels, which includes the Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch, the Townhouse Hotel in Cape Town’s CBD, and the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, has been actively involved in implementing and pursuing sustainability processes since 2006.
In 2015 a sustainability audit focusing on the Vineyard Hotel was carried out by the National Cleaner Production Centre. The results sounded good. About 97% of all waste was being recycled, the hotel had installed 20 kW of solar panels, the conference centre had been designed around Green principles, all hot water was generated by heat pumps, nearly all the lights had been changed to LED… While there is always space for improvement, energy-efficiency measures seemed satisfactory (in some areas of the hotel these measures had produced a 78% energy saving).
Water-saving measures were extensive too. A few examples: all water used on the hotel grounds is borehole water, dual-flush toilets are in place throughout the hotel, all taps are aerated and showerheads are water-efficient, laundry equipment is economical and recycles the last rinse for first wash water…
In the past five years, approximately R5.5-million has been spent on water-saving technology and equipment. Since the 2015 audit, automatic shower activators have been installed in 41 rooms, with set temperature control that reduces water consumption by eliminating the need to wait for water to reach the required temperature. A water-intensive air-conditioning Chiller Plant was replaced with a unit that did not require a water cooling tower. It was felt that the hotel was a responsible user.
As dam levels around Cape Town dwindled, it was announced that Newlands had one of the highest water consumption rates in the City. Usage had to be cut further despite the fact that it was the middle of the summer season; the hotel was full and the F&B areas at their busiest. At a think-tank session, a number of ideas were suggested. Management at the Vineyard Hotel started from the premise that everyone could do something to help.
The single most important initiative was the installation of 20 Apex water meters to supplement the eight we already had. These have allowed us to track usage in areas previously unmonitored across the property. We were able to tell exactly where our water was going. We were able to identify zones where further saving might be possible. For example, when the kitchen was highlighted as an area of concern on the meters, subsequent investigations found a pressure release valve that had become stuck in the open position. After fixing this and implementing other changes, the kitchen was responsible for a 33 kilolitre reduction in our total consumption. The meters continue to facilitate early fault detection.
To reach guests before their arrival, mailers were sent to tour operators and a social media campaign was implemented. Within the hotel, plugs were removed from all baths to highlight the crisis. Cards in guests’ bathrooms explain that showers use less water than baths. Guests may request a plug from reception should they be unable to shower or insist on bathing. Timers were placed in every shower, and guests are requested to use them to help keep showers to less than five minutes and ideally to no more than three.
Day visitors were also recruited to help: all cloth hand towels in the public bathrooms were replaced with paper towels, reducing the load on the laundry. Germstar hand sanitisers were installed in the encouraging guests and staff to sanitize rather than use water to wash their hands. Counter “talkers” explain why these measures were being taken.
The response from guests to these initiatives has been overwhelmingly positive. They have embraced the campaign and many have submitted new and innovative suggestions that have been instituted.
With the above measures (and many more) in place and thanks to the overwhelming buy-in from staff and guests, the hotel’s daily average water consumption was almost halved – from 135kl in February to 72kl in May (admittedly at lower occupancy rates).
As Roy Davies, General Manager of the Vineyard, said at the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa’s (FEDHASA) annual general meeting in June this year, “This year’s challenges have taught us that there will always be something more that can and must be done to be responsible and sustainable. This is not a once-off – water is going to become a scarce resource for the foreseeable future. We need to share and learn from each other’s successes, and I look forward to hearing about interventions fellow hoteliers have found useful. Every drop counts!”