Written by OBM International
On average 16% of a hotel’s total potable water use and expense is used for irrigating and maintaining landscapes, as estimated by the EPA. Reclaiming grey water from spa facilities and hotels is one way of creating a sustainable solution to watering lawns and gardens. It also reduces water consumption in the face of a Caribbean wide drought as a result of El Nino. Landscape designs can integrate Flow forms, closed bioreactor systems, reed beds and constructed wetlands systems into the landscape.
Natural landscape systems range from smaller scale reed beds to large constructed wetlands that can be designed for completely off the grid reclamation of both grey and blackwater. Both use natural anaerobic & aerobic decomposition processes.
The Caribbean’s tropical climate enhances wetlands performance year long. Water is ‘polished’, by phytoremediation, a process using plants to help remove excess phosphates, nitrates and heavy metals. If desired water can be further disinfected before collecting for irrigation purposes. The resulting output is a clear, odourless and environmentally safe water that can be used for irrigating trees, lawns and gardens. Reed beds have evolved to include flowering wetland plants, such as canna and calla lilies, mangroves and bamboo. An added benefit of using mangroves and bamboo is the resulting cash crop. It is possible for the resulting water to be useable for watering kitchen gardens at a hotel. If space is limited, then a bioreactor can be located close to buildings or as a free standing unit.
Recycling water can count towards credits for a variety of sustainable building programs and can be included in new builds as well as retrofitted into existing facilities. A well designed waste water treatment system can sympathetically integrate into the surrounding landscape and activate the landscape into an interesting and useful feature.