Many people are showering at the gym to avoid the 87-litres-a-day water restrictions at home, but the health clubs say they are wise to this and have found ways to avoid being used as refuges by water wasters.
“Yes, we are aware of this,” says Wesley Noble, of Virgin Active Health Clubs, who described their efforts to save water.
The World Wide Fund for Nature ( WWF) launched #WatershedWednesday last week, an initiative to get people to save water not only at home but also in the workplace.
Apart from Virgin Active, other head offices taking part in rationing and saving water in the workplace include Clicks, Growthpoint Properties, Nedbank, Old Mutual, Charly’s Bakery and Woolworths.
Mr Noble said 150 000 people were using 150 Virgin Active clubs across the country each day, 30 of them in the drought-ridden Western Cape.
He said they had reduced their consumption across 30 Western Cape clubs by 29% this year, from 18 litres a visit to 11.7 litres, after introducing dual-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and taps, and swimming pool covers to prevent evaporation.
Other initiatives include plugs in basins to stop members leaving the water running when they shave; instant hot water so there is no need to leave the tap running for water to warm up;
hand sanitiser at basins; and signs in bathrooms and at water coolers.
The gyms have also closed sensation showers, steam rooms and saunas to save 660 000 litres of water a month. And the full-flush option on those dual-flush toilets has been disabled.
“We know our showers use 5 to 6 litre a minute with the low-flow shower heads. Ordinary home shower heads can use in excess of 15 litres a minute. Added to that, there is peer pressure with some members openly calling out others who dare to take showers longer than two minutes,” said Mr Noble.
He adds that they will not stop there and they aim to get to fewer than 5 litres a minute in their showers.
When the Bulletin visited the Constantia gym, on Wednesday November 29, they were fitting timers with very loud alarms to the shower stalls.
“There’s always room for improvement, hence the shower timers and additional measures such as inhibitors/ restrictors, pressure reduction and waterless urinals,” said Mr Noble.
At Constantia they are also harvesting rainwater from the roof and storing it in three tanks.
“We’re applying for legal alternative water supply through donations, or for rainwater harvested in other provinces for our clubs. And we are planning the logistics around transporting water to our clubs and ensuring that branches have at least two days water stored onsite.”
Mr Noble said #WatershedWednesday was not just about what they were doing at club level but also in their own offices and they were hoping to drive additional be-
havioural change in their employees.