Why we’re southeast Qld’s worst water guzzlers
GOLD Coasters are the worst water guzzlers in southeast Queensland, with residents and visitors using an average of 203 litres a day - well above the SEQ average of 177 litres.
But businesses are taking a lead, according to an environmental consultant, by seeking ways to limit and manage their water use.
Despite drought and bushfires across the nation, Gold Coast residents have increased their water use by 30 litres a day over what they were consuming six months ago, although a city councillor believes tourists are among the big offfenders.
Restrictions are set to be introduced across the SEQ water grid when total dam capacity hits 50 per cent. The SEQ grid is currently at 55.8 per cent.
Fearing increased water prices when the restrictions are introduced, many businesses - particularly in the hospitality sector - have turned to experts to set up water management plans.
Glowing Green Australia director Larissa Rose said her Gold Coast company had seen an increase in businesses wanting to audit and manage water use. The environmental consultant said the trend was driven by environmental concerns and worries around a potential price hike for water, expected when water pricing is reviewed in June.
"We are already seeing drastic steps being taken elsewhere. In Cabarita (on the Tweed coast) the public showers have been turned off altogether," Ms Rose said.
"There is no doubt restrictions or price increases would impact day to day industry, particularly our hotels and restaurants.
"Concerns have people asking why restrictions aren't put in sooner, before we reach 50 per cent. Water, energy and waste are big concerns among our clients. We work to see how staff behind the bar or in the kitchen, for example, can cut down and where the biggest expenditure is."
City water and waste committee chair Paul Taylor, who in December blamed holiday-makers for high water use, yesterday stuck to his belief the tourists in the city over Christmas were responsible for increased consumption from November to January.
"I do think people see the ocean and the area and think we have plenty of water here, not knowing water restrictions will hit us too," Councillor Taylor said.
But Cr Taylor said he believed the message was getting through to locals because residential consumption was higher at this time last year, at 218 litres per person a day.
"We have seen businesses make a conscious effort but there are always some people who don't seem to worry about it," he said.
Destination Gold Coast chair Paul Donovan said hotels were making an effort to reduce water usage.
"Most of the good hotels are very mindful, they have signs, limits to changing sheets every day and other things,'' he said.
"When a tourist comes to stay you can't control their water use. But water reduction needs to be addressed from a holistic view through the whole city, it's not a tourism specific thing."
Mayor Tom Tate said Gold Coasters are very aware of the need to be water wise.
"I believe the recent increase in water usage coincides with our city's busiest tourist season," Mr Tate said.
"It is important that we educate tourists on our current drought conditions and promote water saving initiatives. That is why, before Christmas, I wrote to hotels and accommodation providers across the city encouraging them to promote our water saving information to their guests as we headed into our busiest season for visitors to the Gold Coast."
"We also asked Destination Gold Coast to include a specific message about water saving in their end of year e-newsletter which included accommodation providers across the city.
So far we have distributed more than 3,000 water saving flyers to be placed in hotel rooms and other accommodation providers."
COUNCIL'S WATER SAVING TIPS:
* Half fill the sink to rinse dishes or clean fruit and vegetables.
* Cover pools and spas.
* Use a broom to sweep paved outdoor areas instead of hosing them down.
* Wash your car on the lawn.
* Reduce your shower time to four minutes.