Talking Point: Rio isn’t winning on water

Aguawell at Casa Cool Beans

Aguawell at Casa Cool Beans

Rio 2016 is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate this vibrant Latin American city, but it’s obscuring a big water problem and hotels need to play their part, says Flávia Arantes Jensen inventor of Aguawell.

Tourism in Rio is event driven. Big annual parties such as Rio’s Carnival and New Year at Copacabana Beach bring in more than one million tourists every year, not to mention those who recently visited for the World Cup and this year’s Olympics. The influx of tourists for gigantic sporting events puts the Rio water supply infrastructure under a lot of pressure.

With more than 51,000 hotel beds in Rio de Janeiro the hospitality industry uses a lot of clean water. During the hot and humid summer both locals and visitors tend to shower 2-3 times a day. Each Carioca (the citizens of Rio) uses 330 litres of water per day, compared with people living in São Paulo - the biggest city in Brazil – who use only 180 litres per day. Hotels have a crucial role to play in encouraging guests to use less water, whilst also enacting their own measures as responsible water stewards.

Many hotels have already implemented water saving measures such as dual-flush systems in toilets, reduced pressure in taps, and rain water collection systems. Some hotels have cut their water bill in half just by implementing such simple measures. However, only a few hotels have advanced recycling systems for grey water. Upgrading with complicated systems is often neither technically possible nor economically feasible.

As a cheaper solution, some hotels might seek to replicate the work of a local B’n’B. Casa Cool Beans, located in the vibrant Santa Teresa neighbourhood is the #1 rated Bed and Breakfast on TripAdvisor with 10 rooms and a fantastic view of Rio. Manager Sergio Dufrayer Turque decided to be a local leader in taking the traditional linen reuse approach one step further.

Turque implemented a simple Brazilian product – Aguawell - to capture clean water in the shower. An Aguawell is made available for guests in all rooms. It requires no installation and captures up to 6 litres of water usually lost down the drain until the water runs hot. With gas boilers, between 3 and 8 litres of water (depending on the distance from the boiler to the shower) are wasted while the water heats up. With thermal solar heaters the amount of water wasted is often even more, whilst using electric heaters - a common way to heat showers in Brazil – less water is usually lost. However, people often turn on the water and then do other tasks before they eventually enter the shower.

Water collected by the Aguawell can then be used for other purposes such as watering plants or cleaning. The Aguawell sends a clear message to the guest: ‘We will not waste any water’!”

With 10 rooms and 2-3 showers a day per person and 2 people per room, the water saving potential is significant – and a daily friendly reminder for both guests and staff to take care of the planet. The guests get the added unique experience of being able to water the beautiful plants in the subtropical garden surrounding Casa Cool Beans. It’s a perfect illustration for guests of the value of the water they use in their rooms. Who would have thought that a boutique bed and breakfast might have a simple but important lesson for its big name hotel competitors?

Casa Cool Beans: A small, relaxed Bed & Breakfast Inn located in Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Teresa artist district-referred to by New York Magazine as “the drop-dead-sexiest neighborhood in Rio.” TripAdvisor's 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 Traveler's Choice® Award- #1 B&B in Rio de Janeiro.

Aguawell: The brainchild of Flávia Arantes Jensen and her team at Brazilian company Lakefarm Ltda. Designed and manufactured in Brazil, Aguawell offers a simple but 100% Aedes aegypti and zika-proof solution for saving clean water in the shower.

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