Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

How to… save water

03 August 2011
How to… save water

If May hadn't been so wet we'd be writing about an imminent drought and emergency measures to save depleting precious resources, too.

As it is, the hotel and restaurant industry uses a staggering 400 million cubic metres of water every year - equivalent to 100,000 Olympic swimming pools.

So, you'd be right in thinking there's room to save water in the kitchen, in the toilets and virtually - reducing the amount of water intensive food on the menu. In fact, with a systematic approach, restaurants can cut their bills by about a third. For example, fixing a leaky tap can save 5,000 litres a year.

With some water companies considering charging customers twice as much for water in summer as they do in winter, it makes real sense to reduce consumption. So, first up it makes sense to devise a water-saving policy and appoint someone to take responsibility for putting it into action. Monitoring use is the next key step.

Restaurants are finding increasingly inventive ways of cutting their water use. Some of these can involve a fairly significant capital outlay - like more water efficient dishwashers - but payback can be quick.

Other steps like low-flush toilets are simple lower-cost solutions. For the bigger ticket items, restaurateurs can apply to the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme to claim 100% first year capital tax allowances.

One restaurant that has taken the innovative route is the Alma in Islington, London. Owner Kirsty Valentine has two 200-litre rain harvesting tanks on her first-floor terrace. These tanks feed into an intelligent, gravity-fed irrigation system which in turn waters the 100 or so pots of herbs, vegetables and fruit liberally sprinkled around the terrace and garden.

"The system has saved us huge amounts of water and means busy kitchen staff now don't have to take an hour out of the day to water or forget and kill all our hard-grown produce," Valentine explains.

Adding to its sustainability, the system was also designed and fitted by a company based within 200 yards of the restaurant.

Valentine is now planning to connect the tanks to the plumbing and use the rain water to flush the toilets that are already low flush.

In the Alma's basement, she has also installed a water filtration system so her customers can enjoy filtered and carbonated London water.

five ways to save water

1 Appoint a water-saving champion and draw up a water-saving policy.

2 Talk to your water company. Install a water meter, so you only pay for what you use and can monitor consumption better. Some water providers have different incentives to help you save water and money. Thames Water, for example, offers customers free water saving adaptors to fit on to different kitchen, bathroom and gardening devices.

3 Repair leaks. A leaky tap could cost you up to 5,000 litres a year. Compare that water bill to the cost of a cheap washer.

4 Cut water use in the washrooms by installing a volume adjuster in the toilet cistern and sensors in the urinals. Make sure customers only spend a penny!

5 Making dishwashing water efficient either manually - by filling one sink with wash water and a second with rinse water instead of with running water - or mechanically, by filling dishwashers to the maximum.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not-for-profit organisation helping restaurants become more sustainablewww.thesra.org

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


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