Like many other industries, the day spa and wellness industry has been forced to look at the way water is used by its members. Water is a vital ingredient in many spa treatments and there have been community perceptions that spa’s are inefficient and water intensive.
Taking a proactive approach to determine whether or not this perception reflected reality, The Australasian Spa Association (ASpa) began a project to develop an industry wide water initiative that would benefit spa operators, customers and the wider community.
The project aimed to conduct an industry audit and analyse the results from a representative sample of spa properties within Victoria. Initial surveys were conducted across the industry with 20 spas of varying size and geographic location selected for a further physical audit.
ASpa would then use the audit results to evaluate current water usage across all aspects of spa operations and extrapolate the results across the Victorian spa industry to provide an initial industry water usage estimate.
The audit process allowed ASpa to provide a realistic account of water usage to key stakeholders and aided in the development of guidelines for raising water efficiency across the industry through better operating procedures, training programs, and technical design.
Through the water audit process ASpa discovered that there is no significant difference in water use per treatment across the state. However, water use per treatment tended to be lower in areas with advanced levels of water restrictions.
Water use in individual day spas related directly to the types of treatments offered, the number of customers treated per month and the water source in use, for example water from mineral springs or rainwater tanks.
Based on the results of the 20 audit sites the two highest areas of water use were found to be in client showers (pre and post treatment) and the laundering of towels. ASpa estimates that by reducing the number of towels used and increasing showerhead efficiency, among other measures, the Victorian spa industry could save up to 7,500,000 litres of water per year.
The audit report also found that specific treatments, such as Vichy showers, varied widely in water use between properties. This was dependant on the number and flow rates of showerheads used, and the duration of the treatment, demonstrating that there are opportunities for spa operators to improve water efficiency without compromising the quality of this treatment.
Spa operators were found to be very conscious of water usage within their facilities, with 65% of spas audited being committed to informing staff and clients of their water conservation measures.
The Victorian Spa Water Audit has given the spa industry a greater understanding of current water usage and allowed the development of a water efficiency guidelines
The identification of potential water saving measures including installing water efficient equipment, recycling and reusing water, and adopting more water efficient practices will allow the spa industry to reassure current and potential customers of its commitment to water conservation.
The project also identified opportunities for greater levels of staff training to maximise water efficient practices within individual spas and to work with spa equipment manufacturers to achieve greater consistency in water use across product lines.