Water and amenities
Managing water well at your events is critical for those that are being held in water-scare destinations. Regardless, you should do all you can to reduce chemical use and the need for energy-intensive waste water treatment.
Water is a an increasingly scarce commodity.
Be careful with precious water supplies and waterways.
It has been estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people in the world will live in water scarce areas. Including water conservation and waste water management into your event will be an integral part of its sustainability, now and in the future.
Over-drawing and unfair or ecologically damaging water distribution are some of the issues surrounding water use throughout the world. Access to water is a basic human right, with profound health, sanitation and prosperity consequences.
Reducing water consumption, managing waste water well and protecting waterways are the goals.
Whether your event is in an indoor venue, a park, school, club grounds or in a greenfield site, your event will use clean water and produce waste water.
Water is used for standpipes and free drinking taps, catering and food stalls, cleaning, toilets and other amenities, misting stations/dust suppression at hot and dry events and of course grounds preparation and gardening. It may also form part of the event experience, or in fact some events are held in or on water.
Apart from conserving water, managing wastewater responsibly and protecting waterways, also consider the water footprint of purchases of materials and food. Is your event complicit in contributing to negative water use impacts through its purchasing choices?
So What Can You Do?
Respecting and adhering to local water conservation protocols or regulations is especially important if your event is in an area where livelihoods depend on adequate water supply.
Firstly think about what is water required for during the entire event life cycle? How ‘water intense’ is your proposed event, activity, site or venue? What is the likely water intensity of the event – per person per day?
If your event plan predicts that it is going to use more than its fair share of water, or is going to draw an unusually large amount from local water sources, investigating whether there is water scarcity in the event destination is your first duty.
Techniques to reduce water use include using low flush or waterless amenities, using water-saving devices and mechanisms on taps and for those with temporary water distribution systems, not having the pressure too high. Have central stand-pipes at outdoor events for caterers and vendors rather than plumbing everyone straight in. Supply hand-sanitiser at toilets.
In some venues and climates, condensate capture is an option to harvest water.
To engage water users by using the event as a showcase for water conservation, and to inspire contractors, stallholders, bars, caterers and site owners to adopt water conservation tactics.
How will water be supplied to the event/venue? Is it from town mains supply, drawn from an onsite natural source, or is rainwater captured and provided through water tanks? Perhaps it comes from a desalination plant. Consider the climate impact of the water source - how energy-intense is water provision?
If you have your own event site year round, it is advised you consider capturing rain water and storing it in tanks for use.
Events can produce large peaks in wastewater and is a big management issue for many events.
What types and volume of wastewater will be produced? How will wastewater be disposed of and treated? Does wastewater removal need to be transported by tanker/truck?
Can more sustainable techniques for wastewater capture, treatment and re-use be innovated at the event site or venue? Consider reedbed systems.
Capturing and reusing grey water is the ultimate in wastewater management.
Be sympathetic to local wastewater treatment facilities and restrict toxic substances from entering wastewater.
This means no chemical ‘toilet blue’ and overuse of bleach or other cleaning chemicals.
Are there natural waterways that need protection from event activities? Is the event held in a watershed (water-capture zone)? Are any chemical/toxic substances used? What are the contamination risks?
Ensure you manage event activities so that they don’t negatively affect waterways, watersheds, riparian zones, coastal dunes and beaches, and other land/water interfaces. Avoiding erosion, pollution and habitat destruction or disturbance are key.
Ensure there is no liquid waste run-off from your event, or rubbish blowing into waterways.
Prevent trampling by event attendees and vehicle impacts on the water's edge. Conduct a waterways protection campaign at an outdoor event to protect the riparian zone, and prevent urination and other emissions to surrounding waterways.
Use chemical-free cleaning products, and have strict protocols onsite for chemical use, including paint wash-up. Use environmentally sound fertiliser and water wise grounds and gardening techniques.
Adhere to strict protocols to protect waterways such as exclusion zones, careful use of soakaways for waste water and other techniques which should be mandated by local environmental management regulations.
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