Minimising water use at a responsible tourism venue

Results of the first visit to Matlapeng Country Estate

Spanning 21 acres in southern Gauteng, Matlapeng Country Estate is one of the larger properties taking part in the GeePee RT Challenge. Unlike the businesses in the suburbs, Matlapeng faces different types of challenges due to, for example, the fact that its water is drawn from a borehole as opposed to municipal water mains connections.

As the picnic and wedding venue activities benefit from having nice gardens and shade trees, ensuring that they get enough water becomes particularly difficult (and costly) for Matlapeng to manage.  One way they do so is by restricting watering times to before 10h00 or after 16h00. Watering at this time means that less water is lost because you’re not watering during the hottest part of the day when water is lost through evaporation. This also gives the lawn enough time to dry out and let some air into the soil during the cooler evenings.

Matlapeng has also looked at infrastructural changes that can benefit its efforts to minimise water consumption. One of their most popular – and thirsty – amenities is their swimming pool. Picnic venue guests, particularly children, make use of this throughout most of the year which means the water level must be topped up quite regularly. In order to make sure that they balance their guests’ enjoyment with responsible use of scarce water resource, Matlapeng reduced the overall volume of the swimming pool in 2015! The impact of this will not only reduce their water consumption, but will also reduce their fuel consumption and carbon footprint by operating the borehole pump less often (and it will save them money).

Matlapeng also reuses grey water. Grey water is waste water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines – but NOT water from toilets. Instead of letting grey water wash down the drain, it’s safe to use to irrigate a garden.

Matlapeng has made quite an effort to reduce the electricity it uses for lighting. Most lighting is energy efficient CFLs or LEDs, outdoor areas are lit using day-night or motion sensors, and pathway lights are solar-powered. These solar-powered lights offer two advantages – they’re cheaper to run because energy from sunlight is free and when there’s loadshedding guests can still get to their rooms safely at night.

Finally, we like that Matlapeng has checklists for staff to check that lights, the TV, the air conditioner and other appliances are not needlessly left on when rooms are unoccupied.

We used a technical sheet to record what responsible practices Matlapeng Country Estate were involved in when we did the first site visit. Look our for the next post to learn more about the responsible business practices already in place at Matlapeng.

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