Water CHAMP helps hotels and motels conserve water

Posted January 2006

The Southwest Florida Water Management District, the agency responsible for managing water resources in a 16-county area in west-central Florida, provides a free program to hotels and motels to help conserve water. (According to VISIT FLORIDA’s research department, Florida played host to 79.8 million vacationers in 2004, up from the 74.6 million in 2003.) The district launched the Water Conservation Hotel and Motel Program (Water CHAMP) in 2002 to help decrease the impact vacationers place on Florida’s most precious resource—water. Water CHAMP is a reuse program that encourages hotel and motel guests to use their linens and towels for an additional day or two of their stay, rather than requesting fresh towels and sheets daily.

The success of Water CHAMP is measured through actual water savings and perception of the program. To date, 71 water-use surveys have been conducted. Estimated results show that program participants saved a combined 100 million gallons of water in only one year. The audits covered properties ranging in size from one to 1000 rooms. Each size bracket experienced different levels of water savings, however, the estimated average was 50 gallons of water saved per occupied room per day. Participating hotels and motels also saved an average of 20 to 30 percent on laundry costs, and the amount of detergent used also decreased.

To further gauge the success of the program, the district conducted an evaluation of hotel staff and guest reactions. Hoteliers reported that Water CHAMP was easy to implement and saved money with no net loss in staff time or work. Guests reported they were appreciative of the hotels’ and motels’ efforts to save water. The vast majority of comments indicated that guests understood the need to conserve water and were pleased to stay in a property participating in the program.

There are currently 194 properties utilizing Water CHAMP, representing more than 20,000 hotel rooms. Once properties become Water CHAMPs, the district works with them to identify other ways they can conserve water: low-flow fixtures, irrigation efficiency, proper maintenance, proper lighting fixtures, cooling towers, ice machines, etc. In addition, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently included Water CHAMP as one of the criteria for its statewide Green Lodging Certification Program. Green Lodging recognizes lodging facilities that conserve water and energy. Many of the Disney resorts in Orlando are certified Green Lodges due to their commitment to what they call, “Environmentality.” The Green Lodging Program rewards properties that continually improve their efforts with a leveled system of recognition; “One Palm,” “Two Palm,” “Three Palm,” and so on. (For more information on this program, click here.)

For more information on Water CHAMP click here or contact Dorian.Morgan@WaterMatters.org