Irish Water encourages Waterford businesses to become Water Stewards

23 November 2022

Irish Water, Central Solutions and WLR recently teamed up as part of Science Week to highlight and discuss the importance of water conservation. Steve Brown from Central Solutions was joined by WLR’s Damien Tiernan to conduct a water audit at two very different businesses in Waterford, and the results are in!

Speaking about the water audit, Steve Brown from Central Solutions said, “Every business, large or small, can make changes that will reduce water usage, and save the business money. But most importantly, it will help us protect our most precious natural resource, water” There is lots of simple advice that can make a significant difference. Irish Water have a one stop shop on all things water and how you can conserve at www.water.ie. The results below speak for themselves. 

Our first audit brought us to the Granville Hotel 

Hotels have high-water usage due to the nature of their business. Following a guided tour from General Manager, Michael Skehan, Steve identified three types of measures (toilets, taps and showers) that could help reduce water and energy usage. 

The first thing we looked at was the toilets. Most older toilets have a large flush volume of 9-12 litres or more. This is an unnecessary and poor use of drinking water. We recommend when people buy new toilets, that they choose a dual flush cistern that allows the user to select a big flush (4-6 litres) or small flush (2-3 litres). Obviously, we don’t expect anyone to go rushing out replacing toilets to get dual flush ones, but it's just to keep in mind when replacing older toilets.” said Steve.

What you can do now is to buy a ‘cistern displacement device’, such as a “Hippo” for less than less than €2 each’, to place in the cistern. The device is a small bag that takes up room in the cistern. The cistern requires less water to refill, by around 3 litres every toilet flush. It’s a quick win, for example: If we assume there are 150 hotel guests staying, and each occupant flushed (a non-dual flush toilet) 4 times a day for a month. The water saving, by installing cistern displacement devices, is around 54,000 litres each month. That’s a cost saving of around €180 each month and the device will payback in about one month, excluding labour. That’s a good saving for a hotel and with a really short payback. Importantly, keep a keen eye out for leaking toilets as leaks only ever get worse, always cost money, and left unchecked can cause significant building damages. Leaks also send a poor message to guests.

Steve also highlighted an ultra-low-cost saving: “If you already have a dual-flush toilet, we encourage the use of a really clear and obvious sign, non-written, that tells the user which button is for a big flush or a small flush. Please make it simple for everyone! In my view, a sign like this demonstrates to people that the building managers care about the environment and guests appreciate this. Next, handwashing.

Let’s just hope and assume that everyone washes their hands after using the toilet. We have already suggested a figure of 600 toilet flushes per day for our 150 guests. It’s recommended we wash our hands for around 30 seconds. As such, 600 handwashes each for 30 seconds equals around 1,800 litres at a flow rate of 6 litres per minute or, if we reduce the flow using a tap aerator, the 600 handwashes is almost halved to around 1,000 litres. A small cost saving but again, it’s the ‘right thing to do

Finally, we took a look at showers. A good water efficient shower uses less water without compromising satisfaction. A shower with a 15 litres per minute flow rate uses 150 litres per 10-minute shower. Installing a flow reduction device between the hose and shower head can reduce the flow rate to around 8 litres per minute. That’s a 53% reduction and reduces the water use for that 10-minute shower from 150 litres to 80 litres. Using the same scenario as before, if we assume 150 guests have just one shower each day for 30 days, the water use can be reduced from 675,000 litres to 360,000 litres. A massive saving in water consumption and could save the hotel almost €1,000. The cost of the flow reduction device, excluding fitting, is less than €5.00. Again, another quick win for your pocket and an even bigger win for the environment.  

By looking at these three (toilet flush, handwashing and shower) aspects of the hotel and our very limited hypothetical scenario of 150 guests for 30 days. The potential water use reduction per month is around 370,000 litres. That’s enough to fill around 1,540 wheelie bins full of water every month! 

Speaking after the audit, Michael Skehan of The Granville Hotel said,

Water efficiency, and having a more sustainable hotel in general, is something we take very seriously. We recently established a ‘Green Team’ within the hotel whose goal is to make the hotel more energy efficient; all while ensuring we continue to provide a quality service to our guests. Steve’s example for potential savings for 150 guests over a 30-day period has really helped us identify our potential savings.

Our second audit brought us to Lion Barbers/Studio 77, Main Street, Tramore

You don’t need to be a hotel to make savings even a small business that does not have a large water use, can make savings.  

Most of the water use relates to hair washing. A typical shower head with a flow rate of 12 litres per minute can use 120 litres of hot water for a 10-minute hair wash. The use of a flow reduction valve, which normally costs under €5.00, can reduce this volume to 80 Litres without affecting the customers' enjoyment. If the barber does 30 hair washes per day, the reduced flow rate can save 1,200 litres of hot water. That's about 15 baths worth of hot water each day. With rising energy prices using less hot water saves money and is the right thing to do for our planet.

Speaking about the Water Stewardship Programme, Christine Crawford of Irish Water said,

Irish Water is calling on companies of all sizes in Waterford to apply for its Water Stewardship Programme, its comprehensive training programme will help organisations lower their water use, thereby reducing operating costs and protecting the environment. 

More than 600 graduates from a variety of sectors including hospitality, education, manufacturing, transport, and more have now completed the programme to date. The programme, the first of its kind globally, is an international best practice certification accredited by the European Water Stewardship Standard. The programme is endorsed by Ibec, Enterprise Ireland and Chambers Ireland, and supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

The water audits carried out in Waterford for Science Week are a great example of how all businesses can play their part in helping to conserve water.

Irish Water’s Water Stewardship Programme, delivered by Central Solutions and available for organisations in any sector, is fully funded by Irish Water and the Lean & Green Skillnet. Participants undertake comprehensive virtual training to better understand how to conserve water in their organisation, including: 

Creating a water map to visualise how and where water is used; 

  • Reviewing their water monitoring strategy, and investigating how it may be updated/improved;
  • Identifying short payback water efficiency and conservation projects, such as rainwater harvesting;
  • Embedding governance processes to actively engage all stakeholders to conserve water;
  • Developing a water charter as a holistic approach to reducing water in their organisation. 

Those interested in participating in Irish Water’s Water Stewardship Programme can apply on the Become a water steward section of our website.

Business are also encouraged to visit the Hospitality section of our website where they can learn some useful tips on how they can conserve water. 

Irish Water is delighted to promote Science Week 2022 with colleagues from across the country sharing stories about their varied careers in the water industry and highlighting the size and scale of the work in safeguarding Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure for the future. For further information, please visit the Science Week section of our website.