Tourism and Water. How to combine consumption, quality and savings?

Posted on October 11, 2017

The United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, recognizing the important role of sustainable tourism as a positive tool to preserve the environment, improving the quality of life and the local economy.

Tourism in Spain breaks all records in 2017 

Spain has been chosen as the best tourist destination in the world according to the World Economic Forum and is about to close the year with a historical record of visitors overpassing 80 million of visitors which positions it in the top 3 of the most visited countries in the world.

Inevitably, these data can be harmful in the medium / long term for the economic, cultural and environmental environment if resources that make this area enviable are not managed in a sustainable way.

Water and especially the management of wastewater constitute one of these resources that should be better valued by tourism sector.

Increasing need of an efficient use of water resources

According to the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE), the standard household water consumption is 132L/day. The daily consumption of a tourist can reach 800L !

This consumption is calculated according to hotel and catering services such as cooking, laundry, toilets, cleaning, cooling systems and irrigation services, as well as leisure activities such as golf, spas and swimming pools, theme-parks .... To give an example, a golf course needs between 200,000 and 300,000 m³/year for its maintenance.

Use of sewage in hotels, resorts and tourist camps

Black and grey water treatment

Wastewater treatment from hotel complexes is always necessary when the buildings are located in remote areas far away from the public sewage network or in areas where  local regulations are very strict.

Wastewater from the tourism industry is generally characterized by:

  • Significant flow variations depending on the season and daytime

  • High presence of organic fats and oils, and detergents

  • High organic pollutants concentration

In most cases, a compact, energy-efficient, odor-free and low-noise treatment line will be installed with easy maintenance and safe control of parameters. Salher recommends the following technologies for treatment of grey wastewater issued from hotels and resorts, mountain refuges and hostels, country-clubs, theme-parks...

Activated Sludge

Moving Bed Biological Reactor Plants - MBBR  Biomembranes - MBR
Modular Yes Yes Yes
High loads effectiveness and degree of pollutant reduction High High Very high
Consumables No No Yes (membranes and membranes cleaning)
Required space High Medium Very low (No need of secondary clarifier )
Investment cost (CAPEX) Low Low Low
Energy cost due to aeration and recirculation Low Medium High
Sludge production Medium Medium Medium
Odour emission Low Low Low
Output water quality Suitable for a discharge into a public watercourse Suitable for a discharge into a public watercourse Suitable for re-use
Tolerance towards loads and non-uniform flows
Low Medium Medium

Grey and treated water reuse

Greywater recycling and water reuse from wells or rainwater are fully justified in the tourism sector due to the large needs for domestic use.

The advantages of use are numerous:

  • Garden, parks and play area irrigation
  • Cleaning surfaces
  • Laundry
  • Water flush water

There are several reuse solutions according to the parameters of the water which will be treated (flow rate, input pollution, ...)

MBR wastewater treatment plant
Filtration systems with high performances Ultrafiltration systems Filtration systems with active carbon filter Disinfection systems
Salher® reference CHC-OXI-MBR
Efficiency High removal efficiency of organic matter, suspended solids, ammonium Removal of trace of suspended solids

Removal of trace of suspended solids and micro-pollutants

100% free of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens
Removal of organic matter, free chlorine, desodorization, and water discoloration

Pathogen removal, disinfection of treated wastewater with high turbidity and colour. Maintenance of water stored in tanks

Characteristics Wastewater purification by combination of active sludge process and solid - liquid separation by membranes

High performance filters equipped with filling materials with grain size depending on final use.

Ring filters. Cartridge filters
Filtration modules composed of ultrafiltation membranes (nominal pore diameter <0.1 μm) High performance filters equipped with filling material (activated carbon) Chlorination equipment or UV disinfection systems
Required space 


Underground or aboveground system. Possibility of civil works.
Underground or aboveground compact treatment system

Above ground compact system

Above ground compact system

Above ground ultra compact system

On the other hand, when the buildings have an external water source such as well water, seawater or rainwater, there are numerous treatment solutions to manage this resource at hand among for the following beneficial interests:

  • Supply of non-bottled drinking water

  • Water treatment of reservoirs, jacuzzis and swimming pools

Case study: Camping area in the Canary Islands (Spain)

Sistema de desbaste

For an important leisure and protected natural space in Lanzarote Island with capacity for 1,000 users, Salher designed a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant.

Two ultra-compact drum sieves (Ref.TARO- MINI) have been installed for the separation of fine solids.

Two biological reactors CHC – OXI – MBR have been manufactured with an ultrafiltration membrane module instead of the secondary clarifier, also two treated water storage tanks and a panel board with automaton to control both lines of the WWTP.

EDAR Lanzarote

salher logo

Wastewater treatment plant engineering – Liquid/solids separation equipment for industrial and municipal process applications – Surface waters – Groundwater – Water reuse – Drinking water – Hydrocarbon and oil water separation.

Contact us

Products Latest news